Can’t Escape The Heat? Here’s How To Manage Heat Stroke This Summer

Written by | 06 Feb 2018

According to Climate Council Australia, temperatures are rising dramatically across the nation. This means more frequent, lengthier and higher intensity heat levels are being experienced than ever before.

Over the past 15 years, Australians have endured 15 of the 16 hottest years ever measured and with the continuation of climate change temperatures are set to continue to soar.

Ongoing exposure to extreme levels of heat can have a detrimental effect on people so it’s important that all Australians know how to prepare for high temperature days and provide First Aid for heat stroke and other heat induced conditions.

Rising Temperatures And Its Impact On Society

A report from the Climate Council in 2014, revealed that climate change is affecting weather conditions across Australia and that the occurrence and severity of heatwaves is going to continue to increase throughout the country.

Heatwaves can cause major implications to the energy, economic and agriculture sectors. But, what impacts does it have on our health?

Although Australia continues to get hotter year in and year out, Aussies remain underprepared to cope with the consequences of heat induced conditions. The rise in temperature has the ability to cause dehydration, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat-induced swelling and muscle cramps to name a few.

Who Is At Risk?

Anyone, of any age, sex, fitness and background can become susceptible to heat stroke and other heat induced conditions. However some people are more vulnerable than others:

First Aid Management For Heat Induced Conditions

Incessant heat exposure can cause the bodily system to transition into ‘fight’ mode and prompt heat induced conditions. Follow our guide on how to provide First Aid for the most common heat-induced conditions; heat-induced swelling, muscle cramps, dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

First Aid For Heat-Induced Swelling

  1. Lie the casualty down and raise their legs
  2. Encourage the casualty to remain active (keep legs moving)
  3. Keep casualty cool (away from direct heat exposure, in shady area and space with good air circulation)

First Aid For Muscle Cramps

  1. Stop the casualty from doing any physical activity
  2. Move casualty to cool environment, away from direct heat/sunlight
  3. Softly stretch the muscle that is cramping
  4. Massage the muscle if it provides pain relief
  5. Provide the casualty cool water to drink

First Aid For Dehydration

  1. Sit the casualty down
  2. Provide plenty water to drink
  3. If accessible, provide an oral rehydration solution to drink such as hydrolyte
  4. If the casualty continues to feel nauseous or is vomiting, seek medical assistance

First Aid For Heat Exhaustion

  1. Remove the casualty from exposure to extreme heat, to a shady, cool place with circulating air if possible
  2. Loosen tight-fitting and remove excessive layers of clothing
  3. Sponge with cold water
  4. Provide plenty of cool water to sip on
  5. Seek medical assistance if the casualty does not recuperate quickly or is vomiting

First Aid For Heatstroke

  1. Follow DRSABCD
  2. Remove the casualty from exposure to extreme heat, to a shady, cool place with circulating air if possible
  3. Remove layers of clothing if possible and loosen anything restricting the casualty
  4. Apply cold packs or ice wrapped in material to neck, groin and armpits (discontinue when body feels cool to touch)
  5. Call triple zero (000)
  6. If casualty is conscious and able to swallow, provide water

Heat Exhaustion VS Heat Stroke

Heat exhaustion is caused by unrelenting exposure to hot temperatures. This causes the body to overheat and to produce sweat in an effort to cool down. But, the production of excessive sweat results in water loss throughout the body which causes blood volume to decline. This minimises vital blood flow to organs which then causes the body to go into a mild form of shock.

Heat stroke is a more serious condition which has the ability to be fatal if not treated promptly. Water levels within the body become so low that the body is unable to continue to produce sweat, which causes a lightning-like increase in body temperature. This has a dramatic effect on vital organs such as the brain, heart and kidneys, which will begin to shut down.


Heatwaves are predicted to become a more frequent event across Victoria so it’s important to understand the risks associated with extreme heat exposure and how you can prevent yourself from suffering.

If you’re unprepared in a heatwave the common heat-induced conditions you might experience include swelling, cramping, dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. These conditions are not to be treated lightly; they can prompt life-threatening health emergencies such as stroke, kidney failure and brain damage if First Aid is not given when symptoms first arise.

Heat-induced conditions are serious, but it’s often possible to prepare for heatwaves and pre-empt any symptoms. If you’re unable to prepare or are more susceptible and suffer from a heat-induced condition, ensure you seek First Aid in the first initial moments to manage the situation and prevent it from developing into a much more serious health emergency.