January 27th marks the deadliest day for heat-related deaths in Australia and Sweltering Cities is calling on people to help keep their loved ones and community safe.
Heatwaves are Australia’s deadliest environmental disaster and the rising cost of living means many people are worried about their electricity bill.
It’s more important than ever to check-in on people on hot days, especially the most vulnerable – older people, people with young children, people living with disabilities and chronic illness, people who live in hot homes, and people who are socially isolated.
“It’s important that we check-in on people who might be at risk’, Sweltering Cities Executive Director Emma Bacon said.
“Isolation can be deadly for older people, people who live in hot homes, people with disabilities and chronic illnesses, and others.
“The combination of hotter summers driven by climate change and a cost-of-living crunch means that more people than ever are worried about whether they can afford to keep cool. We’ve heard from people across the country who are being forced to choose between air conditioning or essentials like food and petrol.
“Not only does isolation put people at risk during heatwaves, but heatwaves can also increase isolation. More than 45% of respondents in our 2022 national Summer Survey said that they avoid socialising on hot days.
How to Check In
Sweltering Cities is encouraging everyone to check in on people who might get sick in the heat, people who can’t stay cool at home and people who are isolated or live alone.
You can check in by picking up the phone, sharing health advice, dropping by to check on people and spreading the word about the challenges experienced during a heatwave.
How to Spot the Signs of Heat Related Illness
It’s important to know when someone is getting sick in the heat and might need medical attention or extra help. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are two of the most dangerous illnesses and we need to take them seriously.
Heat exhaustion happens when someone becomes dehydrated due to fluid loss from a hot environment and/or excessive physical activity whereas Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency and can cause a person to collapse or fall unconscious. Heatstroke is more serious and means the body is no longer able to regulate its temperature by cooling the skin’s surface by sweating. The internal body temperature rises, and organ damage can occur.
The symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- normal or mildly higher body temperature
- cool, pale, clammy skin
- excessive sweating
- muscle cramps
- rapid, weak pulse
- fainting or dizziness.
The symptoms of heatstroke include:
- reduced sweating
- high body temperature (above 40°C)
- dry, flushed, hot skin
- muscle spasms
- pain throughout the body
- unusual behaviour or signs of confusion
- seizure or possible loss of responsiveness.
To learn how to help someone who might be experiencing heat exhaustian or heatstroke, visit the Sweltering Cities website.
“This January 27th, you can make sure your community is safe by checking-in. All it takes is a text, a call, or a knock on the door.”