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Be heat-wise this summer

Be heat-wise this summer

In summer, it’s important to be aware of rehydrating while you work, as well as the signs of heat-related conditions in your patients and aged care clients.

Your patients and clients may be at risk

Those most at risk in a heatwave include:

  • people aged over 65 years, especially those living alone
  • people who have a medical condition such as diabetes, kidney disease or mental illness
  • people taking medications that may affect the way the body reacts to heat such as:
    – allergy medicines (antihistamines)
    – blood pressure and heart medicines (beta-blockers)
    – seizure medicines (anticonvulsants)
    – water pills (diuretics)
    – antidepressants or antipsychotics
  • people with problematic alcohol or other drug use
  • people with mobility issues, such as those who are bed-bound
  • pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, babies and young children.

Heat-related illnesses

In the summer months, watch out for symptoms of heat-related illness – heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Excessive heat can also trigger symptoms in people with medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.

Heat cramps

Symptoms of heat cramps are muscle pains and spasms in the abdomen, arms or legs.

What to do for heat cramps

  • Stop what you’re doing (or encourage the person with heat cramps to stop what they’re doing) and sit quietly in a cool place.
  • Rest a few hours before returning to activity.
  • Seek medical help if cramps persist.
  • Increase fluid intake.

Heat exhaustion

  • Pale complexion and sweating
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Muscle cramps, weakness
  • Dizziness, headache
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Fainting.

What to do for heat exhaustion

  • Get the person to a cool area and lay them down.
  • Remove their outer clothing.
  • Wet their skin with cool water or wet cloths.
  • Seek medical advice.

Heat stroke

Heat stroke is a medical emergency and can have the same symptoms as heat exhaustion, as well as:

  • dry skin with no sweating
  • mental condition worsens, confusion
  • seizure
  • stroke-like symptoms or collapsing
  • unconsciousness.

What to do for heat stroke

  • Call an ambulance.
  • Get the person to a cool area and lay them down.
  • Remove their outer clothing.
  • Wet their skin with water, fanning continuously.
  • Position an unconscious person on their side and clear their airway.