AVOID THE HEAT: you can't change the weather but you can decide how you will deal with a heatwave.
AVOID THE HEAT: you can't change the weather but you can decide how you will deal with a heatwave. Supplied

Things you need to know as temperatures approach 40C

KEEPING your cool over the festive season is critical for your health.

With temperatures predicted to hit the 40s this festive season, health authorities are asking people to be prepared to stay fit as the mercury rockets up.

Northern NSW Local Health District Public Health Unit's assistant director Greg Bell said people should remember to stay hydrated.

"Some residents are at higher risk of heat illness," he said.

"Especially if they are older, live alone or are socially-isolated."

Mr Bell said it's important to know how to care for yourself and your loved ones under extreme conditions.

It can be as simple as staying out of the hot afternoon sun, wearing a hat and ensuring you drink enough water.

Signs of heat-related illness may include nausea, vomiting, faintness and dizziness, loss of appetite, weakness, headaches, loss of sweating and reduced urine output.

Exposure to high temperatures can make existing illnesses seriously worse (for example trigger a heart attack), cause serious permanent injuries (damage to the brain or other vital organs) as a result of untreated heat stroke, and in extreme cases result in death.

People showing severe signs of heat-related illness should seek urgent medical attention through their GP or the emergency department at their nearest hospital.

Avoid heat-related illnesses

  • Drink plenty of water, and remember to carry some with you when out and about.
  • Avoid alcoholic, hot or sugary drinks.
  • Plan your day around the heat, particularly in the middle of the day, and minimise physical activity.
  • Keep the sun out by shading windows with curtains, blinds or closing shutters.
  • Keep windows closed during the day until it cools down and shut again in the early morning.
  • Try to spend time in an air-conditioned place like a shopping centre, library or cinema.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
  • When outdoors, stay protected from the sun by wearing a hat and sunscreen.
  • Check on elderly neighbours and relatives.

Visit the NSW Health website for more heat wave information and advice http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/beattheheat/Pages/default.aspx