A typical summer in Victoria means hot weather and a higher fire danger. This summer is likely to be even hotter and drier than usual and – as we’ve seen in NSW and Queensland – perfect bushfire weather.
Older people are at a higher risk of heat stress, brought about by extreme heat and power blackouts. With a larger percentage of people over 50 living in rural Victoria, many older residents are at risk of bushfires too. Stay safe this summer by planning ahead.
Extreme heat can affect anyone, but older people, especially those living alone and those with medical conditions, are most at risk.
COTA Victoria’s new campaign, ‘Plan it Cool on Hot Days’, aims to reduce the risk of heat stress in older people. Heat stress occurs when our bodies can’t cool themselves down enough to stay at a healthy temperature. It can lead to heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Heatstroke is a medical emergency and needs to be treated urgently. Find out more about the symptoms and treatments for heat-related illness.
If you have an existing medical condition, heat stress can worsen it. Some medications can affect the way your body reacts to heat too. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to find out if you need to take any extra measures.
‘Plan it cool’ this summer by taking some sensible precautions to prevent heat stress in yourself and people you know:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Stay somewhere cool. Read about your energy rights and energy concessions if you struggle with the cost of keeping your home cool on hot days.
- Plan ahead by checking the weather, local news and heat health alerts.
- Stay in contact with friends, family and neighbours, especially if you (or they) are living alone.
Read more tips about how to ‘plan it cool’ this summer.
If you live in an at-risk area, you need to have an emergency plan in place for bushfires. At-risk areas include properties near forest, bush or grassland, or the coast. It can be difficult to think clearly during an emergency, so it is important to make plans in advance. CFA has a Fire Ready Kit to help you make your bushfire plan and prepare for the season.
Don’t forget your four-legged friends in your emergency plans either. Follow the RSPCA’s Three Steps to your Pet Emergency Plan.
Managing your medications can be tricky on an ordinary day. During a bushfire or other emergency, you may run out or be unable to access your usual supply. Read more about how to prepare and manage your medications on The Conversation.
Stay up to date with warnings and alerts in your area. CFA provides a list of incidents; you can also listen to local radio and news, or call the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.