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Beat the heat: How to keep cool in heatwaves and hot weather


Heatwaves and hot weather have killed more people in Australia than any other natural disaster. Here's how you can beat the heat and keep cool this summer.

Learn how to keep cool in hot weather and heatwaves

Heatwaves not only affect your daily activities, but can be a serious risk to your health and wellbeing. Heatwaves and hot weather kill more people in Australia than bushfires, cyclones and any other natural disaster, so it's important to adapt your activities and have a plan to keep cool.

Heatwaves can be dangerous for anyone - whether heat exhaustion or heat stroke - but they're especially dangerous for older people, young children and people with a medical condition. However, there are lots of things you can do to help yourself - and your family, friends, neighbours and pets - beat the heat and keep cool this summer.

Drink plenty of water

  • Even when you don't feel thirsty, drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid alcohol, tea, coffee and sugary or fizzy drinks. They make dehydration worse.
  • Eat small meals more often, rather than large meals. And eat more cold food like salads and fruit.

Stay cool

  • Stay indoors: keep out of the heat if you can.
  • If you need to go outside, wear light clothing and a hat, put on sunscreen and take water with you.
  • Do daily activities like shopping and gardening early in the day or ask someone to help you.
  • Draw blinds early in the day.
  • Check that your fan or air-conditioner works well. Have it serviced if necessary.
  • Turn your air-conditioner on before the room heats up
  • Take cool showers and splash yourself several times a day with cold water, or use a damp cloth.
  • Go to an air-conditioned building in your local area to cool off: a shopping mall, community centre, library or swimming pool.

Get connected

  • Check the forecast. This will help you prepare ahead for shopping and scheduling appointments.
  • Identify your support network. Include people who can help you get things you need during and after a heatwave. This could be family, friends, neighbours or a carer.
  • Write down your important numbers.
  • Keep in touch with friends, neighbours and relatives, particularly if they're unwell or isolated.

Get organised

  • Store medicines safely at the recommended temperature.
  • Talk to the doctor about how the heat might affect you.
  • Ensure your pets are also well hydrated and have plenty of shade when they are outside.
  • Look at the things you can do to make your home cooler such as installing awnings or shade cloths.
  • Stock up on food, water and medicines.

Get help

If you or someone you know shows signs of heat stroke (fits, confusion, staggering), call 000 immediately. Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency and can cause a person to collapse or fall unconscious. Here are some tips on how to identify the signs and symptoms of heatstroke and heat exhaustion and what you should do.

Get prepared for disasters

Disasters can strike anywhere and anytime. There's a one-in-three chance that you'll experience one in your lifetime and a disaster could affect you and your family for years to come.

Getting prepared for a disaster is easy. RediPlan is a free guide that helps you prepare for a disaster and make an emergency plan. Get it now at redcross.org.au/prepare.

How you can help when disaster strikes

Donate to Red Cross disaster relief

Help Red Cross provide valuable assistance in times of emergency by donating to Red Cross' Disaster Relief and Recovery work. You can make a donation right now at redcross.org.au/disaster or by calling 1800 811 700.

Volunteer for disaster relief work

Want to get involved in future Red Cross emergency responses? Find out how at you can help by volunteering with Australian Red Cross.

Donate clothes and goods

Help support the broader, everyday work of Red Cross by donating your clothes and other goods to our retail stores.