Heat-related health issues

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.

Heat Exhaustion

  • 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.

Heat cramps

  • 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.

Heat rash

  • 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,