As the weather heats up in Melbourne, the risk of heatstroke becomes something we all need to consider.

What is heatstroke?

Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition that sees the body overheat when it can no longer maintain a healthy temperature.

Heatstroke requires immediate first aid to lower the body temperature and occurs when the body temperature rises above 40.5°C

People suffering from heatstroke should be treated in hospital as soon as possible.

What types of heatstroke are there?

There are two main types of heatstroke:

  • Classic heatstroke: this form of heatstroke often occurs over several days of hot and humid weather conditions. Classic heatstroke often affects older people and those with illnesses restricting their ability to cope with hot and humid conditions.
  • Exertional heatstroke: this form of heatstroke occurs when exercising or undergoing physical exertion in hot and humid weather.

Are certain people more susceptible to heatstroke?

Certain people are more susceptible to heatstroke, including those:

  • Affected by chronic diseases
  • Living alone
  • Over 75 or very young
  • Overweight
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Sleeping rough
  • With limited mobility
  • Without social support

How is heatstroke treated?

People suffering from heatstroke should receive treatment in hospital as soon as possible, so if someone has heatstroke call triple zero and request an ambulance.

While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, there are a number of steps you can take to help someone suffering from heatstroke, including:

  • Immerse them in cool water
  • Remove excess clothing
  • Sponge or spray them with water

How can heatstroke be prevented?

Heatstroke is linked to hot conditions, so in hot conditions:

  • Check on others: call in on loved ones who are more at risk of heatstroke and ensure any pets have plenty of water and shade. Never leave babies, children or animals in the car
  • Drink plenty of water: avoid sugary drinks and continuously drink water, even if you don’t feel thirsty
  • Keep your home cool: shut curtains and blinds, use air-condition if available and keep windows closed

How long does it take to recover from heatstroke?

Heatstroke recovery time is variable and can last anywhere from a few days to a year.

What long-term effects can heatstroke cause?

Heatstroke can cause severe long-term effects, including internal organ damage and death.

Those suffering from heatstroke should be taken to hospital as soon as possible.

09 December 2019