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How to cope with the heat this summer

Australia is enduring its hottest and driest year on record. Not only has this contributed to severe drought but the devastating fires seen across the country.

Extremely hot weather can also cause serious health problems.

Older people, pregnant women, children, those with a disability and people taking medications are among those who are more at risk.

Here are some simple tips to follow to reduce the effects:

Red Cross 7 top tips for coping with the heat:

1. Drink regularly: even if you don’t feel thirsty. Water is the best option. Avoid alcohol, tea, coffee and sugary or fizzy drinks as they make dehydration worse.

2. Eat little and often: rather than large meals. Try to eat more cold food, particularly salads and fruit, which contain water.

3. Stay indoors: in the coolest rooms of your house or in the shade during the hottest part of the day.

4. Keep cool: take cold showers and splash yourself with cold water several times a day, particularly your face and the back of your neck.

5. Air flow: make sure there is sufficient air circulation, either from an air conditioner or by leaving a secured window or door open.

6. Find shade: if you must go out, stay in the shade. Wear a hat and light-coloured, loose-fitting clothes, preferably made of natural fibres. Wear sunglasses and apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 to exposed skin.

7. Look out for your neighbours: if you know someone who might be susceptible to heat stress, stop by and make sure they know what to do to stay cool.