19 January 2022

Heatwave health warning

The Department of Health is warning of the health risks associated with heat stress during the second heatwave of the summer, with the Perth metropolitan area set to experience a number of days with temperatures of 40 degrees or above.

Parts of the south west region will also experience high temperatures.

Western Australians need to take precautions to help prevent heat-related illness. Heatwaves have caused more deaths in Australia in the past 200 years – more than any other natural hazard.

Extreme heat events are becoming common throughout the State, in turn increasing the number of heat-related deaths and consequential impacts on families and the community.

People are encouraged to reconsider non-essential outdoor activities, especially during the hottest part of the day.

Those at most risk during heatwaves include:

  • the elderly
  • young children and babies
  • women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • people with acute or chronic conditions
  • those who are obese
  • people taking certain prescription medicines
  • socially isolated or homeless people.

The Department of Health advises Western Australians who experience severe symptoms, such as a high body temperature; nausea; dry, red, hot skin; confusion, inability to concentrate and coordinate your movements, and a rapid heart rate to seek urgent medical advice.

Dehydrated or suffering from heat exhaustion can rapidly progress to cardiac, respiratory and nervous symptoms heralding a heat stroke if not treated.

WA Health advice on staying safe in heatwaves:

  • Check on older, sick and frail people who may need help coping with the heat.
  • Never leave anyone in a closed car (this includes pets).
  • Drink plenty of water and fluids (note: If your doctor normally limits your fluids or you are on fluid tablets, you may need to check how much to drink while the weather is hot).
  • Limit or avoid alcohol.
  • Stay indoors, if possible, in air-conditioning.
  • Take a cool shower or bath.
  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Apply sunscreen at regular intervals while outdoors.
  • Reduce physical activity.
  • Avoid outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day.
  • If possible, stay in shaded areas when outdoors.
  • Don't rely on fans unless there is adequate ventilation.
  • Know the signs of heat stress (muscle cramps, pallor, dizziness, headache, nausea, increased heart rate, fainting, excessive sweating or no sweating with high temperature and hot, dry skin) and seek medical attention if necessary.

Visit the HealthyWA website for more information.


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