Heat health

Summer can sometimes take us by surprise. The weather can change quickly and bring a whole range of health challenges. This can include extreme heat and a range of diseases, which breed in warmer conditions. 

As a truly multicultural country, we are privileged to share in the tremendous contributions – including food, culture and other traditions – from those who have come from other parts of the world. 

However, not everyone now is as prepared as they could be to manage the challenges summer can bring. 

Everyone must ensure that people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds are aware of risks and understand the steps they can take to protect themselves and those in their care. 

Survive the heat

Extreme heat kills more Australians than any natural disaster.

  • Drink plenty of water. Always take a bottle with you.
  • Hot cars kill. Never leave kids, adults or pets in cars. The temperature inside a parked car can double within minutes.
  • Keep cool. Seek out air-conditioned buildings, draw your blinds, use a fan, trrake cool showers and dress in light and loose clothing made from natural fabrics.
  • Plan ahead. Schedule activities in the coolest part of the day and avoid exercising in the heat. If you must go out, wear a hat and sunscreen and take a bottle of water with you.
  • Check-in on others. Look after those most at risk in the heat – your neighbour living alone, the elderly, the young, people with a medical condition and don’t forget your pets.
  • Visit the Better Health Channel for tips on preparing for extreme heat.
  • Call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 606 024 or see your doctor if you are unwell. In an emergency, call Triple Zero (000).

Food safety

Cook food thoroughly to kill off bacteria
Ensure that raw meat are cooked through to minimise the risk of developing bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
  • Food poisoning is caused by eating contaminated food and affects a large number of Australians every year.
  • Food poisoning can cause vomiting and diarrhoea and may be quite serious for children, older people and people with conditions that weaken their immune systems.
  • Food can be contaminated when it is handled, stored or prepared incorrectly.
  • Some foods carry a higher risk of causing food poisoning, and some people are more at risk of getting food poisoning than others.
  • Pregnant women, young children, the elderly and those with an illness or low immunity are more at risk of food poisoning.
  • Food poisoning bacteria can multiply very quickly, particularly in certain conditions.
  • Preventing food poisoning can be as simple as washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water
  • Take care when preparing, storing or serving food, especially potentially high-risk foods.
  • Make sure food is stored at the correct temperatures, food is cooked properly to kill bacteria, and if in doubt throw it out.
  • If you have symptoms of food poisoning it is important to stay at home while you recover and avoid social gatherings – and never prepare food for others when sick
  • See your doctor as soon as possible if you experience symptoms of food poisoning.
  • To find out more about food poisoning and how to prevent it, visit the Better Health Channel at https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/food-poisoning-prevention

Travel health and safety

Cover yourself when travelling
As travel agents always say, if you cannot afford a travel insurance,
you cannot afford to travel.
  • Plan and prepare well to get the most out of your holiday
  • Visit your doctor for a health check and organise any vaccinations and medications you may need
  • Keep up to date with the latest travel advice and register with www.Smarttraveller.gov.au
  • Consider taking out travel insurance which includes health cover
  • Pack for the location and season and include a first aid kit
  • Practice good hygiene and make sensible choices about food while you’re away to avoid getting sick
  • If you’re due to travel and feel unwell, consider delaying travel and seek medical advice.
  • If you’re already travelling and unwell, remember diseases can spread quickly in spaces like planes so tell someone you’re unwell and get assistance.
  • Some diseases can travel with you so even after you’ve arrived home, if you’re unwell, seek medical assistance and avoid contact with others until you’ve got the ‘all clear’.
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Healthy swimming

Keep clean before going on swimming pool
Contaminated pool water can do you harm.

Swimming is a great activity for improving general health and wellbeing.

While swimming is fun and a great way to stay fit and active, sometimes germs can contaminate the pool water, which can make people sick.

Follow the 5 healthy swimming steps to help keep the pool clean:

  1. Shower and wash with soap, especially your bottom, before swimming.
  2. Wash your hands with soap after going to the toilet or changing a nappy.
  3. Change nappies in nappy change areas only.
  4. Avoid swallowing pool water.
  5. Do not swim if you have diarrhoea. It is important for swimmers who have had diarrhoea not to swim for two weeks after diarrhoea stops.”

Everyone is responsible for keeping our pools clean and free from germs.

For more information on healthy swimming talk to swimming pool staff or visit: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/healthy-swimming

Beat the bite

Protect yourself from mosquito bites

We love getting outdoors while the weather is warm. The problem is – so do the mosquitoes. They’re not just annoying; some mozzies can transmit serious diseases.

There are simple things you can do to Beat the bite!

Protect yourself and your family from mosquito-borne disease:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing when outdoors.
  • Use mosquito repellents containing DEET or picaridin on exposed skin.
  • Try to limit outdoor activity if lots of mosquitoes are about (usually dusk and dawn).
  • Make sure there is no stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed around your home.
  • On holidays make sure your accommodation is properly fitted with mosquito netting or screens.
  • Don’t forget the kids – it’s safer to spray or rub insect repellents on their clothes rather than directly onto their skin.

Most mosquitoes found in Victoria do not carry diseases but are more of a nuisance.

A mosquito can pick up a virus when biting an infected human or animal. The virus can reproduce inside the mosquito and be passed to humans when the mosquito bites them.

Diseases that can be spread by mosquitoes in Victoria include Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus, West Nile (Kunjin) virus or very rarely Murray Valley encephalitis virus.

Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses can cause joint inflammation, pain and rash.

Murray Valley Encephalitis virus (MVE) is a brain infection that can cause the brain to swell, leading to brain damage or death.

Pregnant women and women trying to get pregnant are advised to consider postponing travel to any country with active Zika virus transmission.

For more information on protecting against mosquito bites, or to order copies of Beat the Bite posters and brochures, go to: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/campaigns/beat-the-bite