Red Cross urges Australians to prepare for this week’s heatwaves

Australian Red Cross

Australian Red Cross is urging people to prepare for, and to follow some simple tips to stay safe through, this week’s heatwaves across many parts of the nation.

“Extreme hot weather can cause serious health problems. More Australians have died as a result of heatwaves than floods, bushfires or cyclones,” says Red Cross Regional Area Lead, First Aid and Mental Health, Janie McCullagh.

“We’re urging people to be prepared. Keep cool, hydrated and know how to recognise the signs of heat-stroke.”

Temperatures forecast well into the 30s across parts of Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. Ms McCullagh said the symptoms of heatstroke can include a change in consciousness, or being confused, appearing hot, red and flustered and in extreme cases, vomiting.

“Heat-stroke can be life-threatening,” Ms McCullagh says. “Knowing how to respond can be critical. The confidence to know what to do in a first aid emergency can make the difference between a positive outcome and a tragedy.”

Australian Red Cross’ free First Aid Appcan be used to guide people through the signs, symptoms and responses for heat-stroke and many other first aid emergencies.

Australian Red Cross’ tips for coping with the heat:

· Drink regularly: even if you don’t feel thirsty. Water is the best option. Avoid alcohol, tea, coffee and sugary or fizzy drinks as they make dehydration worse.

· Eat little and often: rather than large meals. Try to eat more cold food, particularly salads and fruit, which contain water.

· Stay indoors: in the coolest rooms of your house or in the shade during the hottest part of the day.

· Take cool showers and splash yourself with cold water several times a day, particularly your face and the back of your neck. A loose, cotton, damp cloth or scarf on the back of the neck can help you stay cool.

· Air flow: make sure there is sufficient air circulation, either from an air conditioner or by leaving a secured window or door open.

· Find the shade: if you must go out, stay in the shade. Wear a hat and light-coloured, loose-fitting clothes, preferably made of natural fibres. Wear sunglasses and apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or above to exposed skin. If you will be outside for some time, take plenty of water with you.

· Look out for your neighbours: if you know someone who might be susceptible to heat stress, stop by and make sure they know what to do to stay cool.

Red Cross’ first aid training courses are open for bookings. Book online at redcross.org.au/firstaidor call 1800 733 276.

/Public Release.