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South East Queensland enjoys a long, hot summer, but with our fine weather comes the danger of heatwaves. Heatwaves are defined by three or more days of unusually high maximum and minimum temperatures in any area. It not only poses a threat to people and animals but can also affect community infrastructure such as power supply and other support services.

In Australia, heatwaves usually range from 37°C to 42°C. Everyone is vulnerable to the effects of heatwave, however some people in our community are at greater risk than others, including babies and young children, the elderly, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, people who take certain medications, people with an alcohol or drug problem, and people who are physically active or work outside.

It is important to stay healthy in hot weather by:

  • Wearing lightweight, light-coloured, loose porous and natural fibre clothes
  • Avoiding strenuous activities and vigorous exercise
  • Drinking two to three litres of water per day, even if you are not thirsty
  • Avoiding alcoholic, caffeinated and soft drinks
  • Keeping your home cool with curtains, shutters or awnings
  • Wearing a hat and sunscreen in the sun
  • Monitoring animals and pets for heat stress
  • Never leaving children or pets in parked vehicles, even for a short period of time
  • Seeing a doctor if you feel ill as heat-related illness can be fatal

Heat related illness

During very hot and extreme heat conditions, people are at greater risk of health problems. These can be specific heat-related illnesses or a worsening of existing medical problems.

Heat-related illness occurs when the body absorbs too much heat. This may happen slowly over a day or two of very hot weather. This can be associated with different effects ranging from a mild heat rash or cramps through to heat exhaustion. Download the Heat Related Illness  (PDF 186 KB) fact sheet for more information on the different heat-related illnesses.

Queensland Health also provides a confidential phone service, 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84), that provides health advice. You can phone and talk to a registered nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the cost of a local call.

For more information on preventing heat-related illness and staying healthy in the heat, visit the Queensland Health website.