Heat related health issues can be life threatening. It is best to avoid heat problems on a hike by taking appropriate precautions. Cancel bushwalks in extreme heat conditions. If you are on the track on a hot day, drink lots of water, wear a hat with a wide brim, rest in the shade, apply suntan lotion every few hours. Typical heat-related issues that may affect bushwalkers are listed below.
- Commonly known as heatstroke, hyperthermia is when your body produces or absorbs heat faster than it can dissipate it, causing a dangerously high body temperature.
- In mild hyperthermia the symptoms are mainly a dry, hot skin, with no sweat. This may progress to confusion, slurred speech, nausea, flushed skin, rapid breathing, and racing heart rate.
- Contributors to hyperthermia include exposure to a hot environment, strenuous activity, wearing excess clothing, drinking alcohol, becoming dehydrated, high humidity or a combination of these.
- Hyperthermia requires emergency treatment to avoid damage to the brain, heart, kidneys and muscles.Ring Triple Zero.
- Treatment is to cool the person down quickly by methods such as immersion in cold water, evaporation cooling, and applying ice packs to the groin, neck, back and armpits.
- Symptoms include: heat cramps, paleness, sweating,dizziness, weakness, fast weak pulse, headache.
- Treat by laying person in a shady place, apply coll wet cloths to body, administer sips of water, place in cool water such as a pond or bath.
- If symptoms don’t improve within an hour ring Triple Zero.
- Symptoms include dry lips, mouth and tongue, increased thirst, dizzy, tired, irritable, headaches, less urination than usual.
- Treat by moving to a cooler place, drinking small amounts of water regularly.
- Seek medical treatment if symptoms are severe.
- Calf pain is caused when muscles suddenly contract, often due to dehydration or mineral deficiencies.
- Stop strenuous activity and rest in the shade.
- Gently massage the muscle.
- Drink increased quantities of water, low sugar sports drink or diluted fruit juice.
- If cramps persist for more than an hour, seek medical treatment.
- Move to a cool place.
- Avoid using ointments and creams.
- Keep area dry.
- Applying powder may improve comfort.
- You can get sunburn even when hiking on an overcast day.
- Sunburn increases skin aging, but more importantly increases the risk of skin cancer.
- Wear a wide brimmed hat, long sleeved clothing, and long trousers to reduce exposure.
- Apply suntan lotion every few hours.
- Treatment includes: cooling with cold compresses, taking a quick dip in a pool or bath, applying moisturiser to damp skin. Drink increased fluids, containing an electrolyte powder such as Hydralite, or a sports drink with electrolytes.
- Never peel skin, as the area may become infected.
- Seek medical treatment if you have large areas of blistering,