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Heat stress and heat stroke

heat stress

Heat stress is one of the biggest health risks associated with heat waves. Hot weather places extra strain on your body as it tries to cool itself to its preferred temperature of 37C.  Farmers working outside, or in farm buildings or sheds which have poor cooling methods, are at particular risk. Older people (are at risk) as your sense of thirst decreases and your kidney isn’t able to conserve body water as easily.  There are three stages of heat stress: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat stroke occurs when you become dehydrated and your body temperature rises above 40.5C. This is a medical emergency and can lead to death. If you work in a hot environment, or are fighting fires you should drink plenty of water, try to stay indoors during the hottest part of the day and develop a heat stroke prevention plan.

Heat stress – preventing heat stroke

Heat stroke occurs when a person becomes dehydrated and their body temperature rises above 40.5C. This is a medical emergency and can lead to death. If you are organising a large event or sports activity, working in a hot environment or firefighting, you should develop a heat stroke prevention plan.

Heat stress – preventing heat stroke

Heat stroke occurs when a person becomes dehydrated and their body temperature rises above 40.5C. This is a medical emergency and can lead to death. If you are organising a large event or sports activity, working in a hot environment or fire fighting, you should develop a heat stroke prevention plan.

Find out more about this topic on Better Health Channel

Signs of Health stress:

Fainting, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat fatigue, worsening of pre-existing illnesses and conditions.

Signs and symptoms of heat illness include feeling sick, nauseous, dizzy or weak.

Serious signs are clumsiness, collapse and convulsions (fitting) which may be experienced as a result of heat illness. Anyone with these signs or symptoms need to seek immediate medical attention.

References used for this topic page

More information:

Better Health Channel

Heat stress and heat related illness

Survive the heat

Worksafe Victoria

Working in Heat  – PDF

Department of Health and Human Services (VIC)

Looking after farm animals in hot conditions
Dehydration and Aging

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke

Queensland Health

Heat related illness

Worksafe NT

Rural safety-heat stress [PDF]

Clinical care:

Rural and Remote Clinical Support Unit (QLD)

Primary clinical care manual [Heat exhaustion – page 194]

Research & reviews:

Archives of Internal Medicine

Prognostic Factors in Heat Wave–Related Deaths

New England Journal of Medicine

Heat stroke; review article

Fast facts:

Heat stress and heat stroke

  • There are three stages to heat stress – heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke.
  • Heat stroke occurs when the body’s core temperature rises above 40.5 degrees Celsius.
  • Heat stroke is a medical emergency, ring triple zero (000) if someone with you is not physically coping with the heat.
  • Avoid working outdoors in the hottest times of the day, drink plenty of water, and stay in a cool place.

Last updated: 5th February, 2019