First Aid Tips for Gold Coast Families

With temperatures set to rise above 35 degrees Celsius over the weekend, its time to refresh your first aid knowledge on heat illness.

What is heat-related stress?

Heat-related stress is illness which usually occurs when a person is exposed to a hot-environment which overwhelms their body’s ability to maintain a normal temperature. The early symptoms of heat-related stress include headaches, dizziness, faintness, nausea and vomiting. In babies, signs of heat-related stress include restlessness, irritability and a reduced number of wet nappies. Heat-related stress is a serious medical condition. If not recognised early and managed properly, people can potentially develop life-threatening illness (heat-stroke). Simple measures that can be applied by everyone significantly reduce the chance of becoming seriously unwell with heat-related stress.

What causes heat-related stress?

People adapt to heat by sweating, reducing their level of physical activity, and moving to a cool environment such as an air-conditioned building. If a person is not able to adapt in this way then their body temperature begins to rise and they become unwell.

Heat-related stress can occur in anyone but those most at risk include:

  • young children and babies
  • the elderly
  • pregnant women
  • obese individuals
  • disabled individuals, particularly those with impaired mobility
  • individuals on medications which promote fluid loss or reduce sweating
  • individuals who exercise or work outdoors
  • people who are not acclimatized to heat (e.g. overseas visitors)

Heat-related stress can occur on normal summer days, but the risk of developing heat-related stress increases dramatically if outdoor temperatures rise above 35 degrees Celsius. Relatively short exposure to extremely hot environments can also cause heat-related stress. These include the interior of a hot car, a tent on a hot day, or periods of direct exposure to the sun.

The risk of developing heat-related stress is highest during a ‘heat-wave’ where temperatures are above average for several sequential days and it remains hot overnight.

How can heat-related stress be prevented?

Individuals must protect themselves from the dangers of heat-related stress during hot summer days and heat-waves. The following measures should be followed to reduce the chance of suffering heat-related stress:

Drink plenty of fluids and avoid dehydration
Dehydration reduces your body’s ability to cool itself by sweating. Check with your doctor how much you should drink if you are on limited fluids or fluid pills.
Water is the best fluid to drink.
Avoid beverages which contain caffeine or alcohol.

Stay in a cool environment
Stay indoors or in the shade wherever possible.
Sleep in the coolest part of the house.
Keep air circulating and use air conditioning if available. If you don’t have air conditioning, consider visiting an air-conditioned facility such as a shopping centre or library.

Reduce physical activity
Avoid strenuous physical activity.
If activity is unavoidable, rest often and drink plenty of fluids.

Take extra measures to increase cooling
Wear light-weight clothing.
Take a shower, bath or sponge bath.
Eat regular, light meals.

Be aware of vulnerable people
Frequently check on older, sick and frail people who may need help coping with the heat.
Never leave children or pets unattended in a motor vehicle as temperatures can rise very rapidly to dangerous levels.

Learn First Aid
Undertaking a First Aid Course is a great way of better preparing yourself for emergencies such as heat stroke.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke

  • Flushed, hot, dry skin
  • Sweating has ceased
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Irrational, aggressive and confused
  • Fatigue
  • Visual disturbances
  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Coma leading to cardiac arrest

First Aid Management of Heat Stroke

  • Call 000 for an ambulance
  • Complete rest in the shade
  • Remove excess clothing
  • Lay the person down and elevate legs
  • Give sips of cool water
  • Cover the person in wet sheets and fan cool air over them
  • Apply wrapped ice packs to the groins, armpits and back of the neck

Further information on severe hot weather can be found on the Gold Coast City Council website.

About Andy
Andy is responsible for the overall management of Paradise First Aid. Andy holds a number of Diploma and Certificate level qualifications in first aid and emergency care and has worked in both the private and public health services before making the switch to first aid education. Andy has a passion for Continued Professional Development and is a member of the First Aid Industry Reference Committee and the Australian Resuscitation Council (QLD Branch).

Related Post

Why you should never extinguish beach fires with sand

Recently my 13-year-old son & I went on a camping trip to put his new swag to the test on South Stradbroke Island, QLD. Our father-son bonding time was interrupted early in the trip when he suffered a significant burn to his hand and fingers. The cause… a campfire covered with sand. Whoever was using […]

read more

What is wound glue and how is it used?

What is wound glue and why is it used? Disclaimer – This guide is intended for information purposes only. Professional medical advice should be sought before proceeding with any treatment. Wound closure using medical adhesive should only be performed by a trained medical professional.  What is Wound Glue? Wound glue, also known as tissue adhesive […]

read more

Sprained Ankles

A Comprehensive Guide to Sprained Ankles: Causes, Signs, Symptoms, and First Aid Treatment Ankle sprains are a prevalent injury in Australia, with a significant number of cases associated with various physical activities. Sports Medicine Australia reports that over 25,000 Australians sprain their ankles annually, a considerable percentage of these incidences stemming from sports activities. A […]

read more