Keep cool and stay out of the heat

People are being warned to take extra care over the next few days, with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) predicting heatwave conditions over much of central and eastern Australia.

South-east Queensland and northern NSW sweltered under extreme conditions on Thursday, with a low intensity heatwave expected to redevelop over southern Queensland and the Northern Territory, eastern Tasmania, parts of Victoria and most of NSW and South Australia during Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

Health authorities say hot weather can bring on heat-related health issues, ranging from a rash and cramps to heat stroke, requiring urgent medical attention. Young children and older people are among those most commonly affected.

People are being advised to drink plenty of water and to avoid unnecessary physical activity during hotter times of the day, to stay indoors and use fans or air conditioners where possible, or go to air conditioned places such shopping centres, cinemas or libraries.

If you think someone may be affected by heat stroke, move them to a shady, cool place, call 000, sponge them down with cool water and apply ice packs and only give fluids to drink if the person is fully conscious.

Australia’s Sleep Health Foundation said that hot nights could also take a heavy toll on sleep, leaving people drained and exhausted by morning.

Foundation chair Professor Dorothy Bruck said cost-effective ways of keeping cool at night included using a fan or opening a window to ensure good ventilation, using cotton sheets and wearing little - if any - clothing while in bed, and having a cool shower before retiring at night.

“If you can get the temperature of your hands and feet right then chances are you’ll get to sleep quickly and stay asleep,” Prof Bruck said.

People should not try to go to bed too early.

“It usually takes longer to fall asleep when you’re hot, so don’t go to bed too early. In fact, don’t go to bed until you actually feel quite sleepy.”

The foundation has published new guidelines for safe and successful sleeping on hot nights on its website here

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