Heat waves and hydration a simple check list will help you cope

Heatwaves kill far more people than natural disasters like bushfires, cyclones and floods. Adequate preparation is essential, especially for people at high risk: the elderly, babies, young children, people with health and mobility problems.

Before and during a heatwave

Stay hydrated

Drink two to three litres of water each day, even if you don't feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.

Dress light

Lighter clothing helps your body stay cool. Light-coloured clothing reflects heat and sunlight.

Check on family, friends, neighbours

Keep a close eye on those most at risk, like the sick, the elderly and the young. Do this at an arranged time at least twice a day.

If you or those close to you are suffering heat stress, call for help immediately

Symptoms of heat stress include extremely heavy sweating, headache and vomiting, confusion, swollen tongue.

Stay out of the sun

Take shelter. If you need to be out in the sun, wear a shirt, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Sunburn will affect your body's ability to cope with the heat.

Get your home ready

Draw your curtains, blinds and awnings at the start of the day to keep as much sun out of your home as possible.

Seek air conditioning

If you don't have air conditioning at home, spend the day somewhere that does, like a library, cinema or shopping centre. If you do have an air conditioner at home, make sure it has been serviced. Fans will also help you stay cool.

Look after your pets

Make sure your pets have plenty of shade and enough cool water to last the entire day. Putting ice cubes in their bowl will help keep their water cool for longer. Check on them regularly.

Don't leave children or pets in parked vehicles

Ever. For any period of time.

After a heatwave

You should continue to check on family, friends and neighbours, particularly those most at risk.

It's also important that you keep drinking water regularly, even if you don't feel thirsty.

Also, be careful around trees — they often drop limbs when it is hot.

Emergency services

Agencies work together to issue alerts for heatwaves, so the agency issuing the alerts will vary.

Be on the lookout for alerts related to heat health (generally issued by the chief health officer), extreme heat or about transport disruptions.

The Bureau of Meteorology now forecasts heatwaves between the start of November and the end of March using maps showing colour-coded heatwave severity for the previous two three-day periods and the next five three-day periods.

Your local doctor, hospital or health professional is a source of advice if in doubt.

All life-threatening situations should be reported by calling triple-0.

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