What natural disaster results in the most deaths in Australia?
No, not floods, earthquakes or bushfires. It’s heatwaves.
In 2009 a heatwave in South Australia killed 374 people, the worst on record.
“Since 1900 more deaths can be attributed to extreme heat than other natural disaster,” ambulance station manager Darren Rudd said.
Despite being such a significant threat most people don’t think about a hot day being potentially fatal.
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It’s extremely important to stay hydrated, keep cool and to reduce activities that can cause dehydration like exercise and drinking alcohol.
“Stay hydrated especially with the elderly as physiologically their fluid stores decrease by about 15 percent as they get older,” Mr Rudd said.
“On warmer days you need to increase hydration.
“Drink fluids event if you’re not thirsty. By the time you recognise your signs of thirst you’re already dehydrated.”
Electrolytes aren’t necessarily needed during hot weather, water should be sufficient.
For extra hydration opt for hydrolight tablets or bottles.
Anyone who is on fluid balance or fluid control diet should speak to their doctor before drinking additional water.
Stay in a cool place and use ceiling fans and air conditioning.
“Most of us can tolerate being out in 40 degrees for short durations,” Mr Rudd said.
However, this is also why the concern increases with elderly.
“They feel they can’t afford to pay to run the air conditioning and they sit in homes in hot temperatures for days on end and become very unwell,” Mr Rudd said.
When temperatures start to soar don’t go for a run or starting drinking alcohol.
These activities can increase the rate of dehydration which is already accelerated on hot days.
“Reduce unnecessary exercise and other activities that can dehydrate you like drinking alcohol,” Mr Rudd said.
“Stay in a cool place and look out for each other especially the elderly and young.”