Thermal Health and Safety
Heat stress and dehydration
In the hotter parts of Australia, dehydration and heat stress can be
a risk, particularly for unacclimatised people. Full acclimatisation generally
requires about ten days of exercise in hot conditions.
Information about heat illness is available from the electronic
journal, THE PHYSICIAN AND SPORTS MEDICINE. While exercising in the heat,
it is quite possible to lose a litre of water or more per hour; continual
replacement is necessary to avoid dehydration. In the hot dry climatic
regions, you can take advantage of the large daily variation of temperature
to make your stay more comfortable. During summer in the hot dry zone,
anything energetic is best done in the hours around sunrise - the coolest
time of day. For example in Alice Springs, the January daily minimum temperature
averages 21 degrees C, while the January maximum is usually about 15 degrees
Precautions:(provided by Sports
Medicine Australia) Wear a broad-brimmed hat and cool loose clothes
which "breathe", use sun screen (preferably water-based) and
carry copious supplies of water (drink around 500 ml before leaving your
accommodation, then 200-300 ml every 15 minutes). In hot conditions, exercise
should be reduced in duration and intensity, or postponed to a more suitable
(cooler) time. Alcohol and caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee increase
fluid loss, thus promoting dehydration. They are best avoided before,
during and after exercising, until fluid losses have been completely replaced.
In spite of Australia's image as a hot dry country, exposure (hypothermia)
is a possibility in parts of the cool temperate region. In the high country,
the weather can change quickly, and snow can fall at any time of year.
Precautions: Wear boots and wear or carry warm clothes in several
layers, including warm headgear and gloves. Carry effective rain gear
and plenty of food (carbohydrates are best) to keep the inner fires burning.
Tired people are more susceptible to cold exposure, so partying the night
before your trip, or feats of endurance on the day, are not advisable.
Carry adequate fluids; cold weather promotes fluid loss as the blood vessels
contract to conserve body heat. Alcohol increases heat loss from the body
by dilating surface blood vessels. In spite of the life-saving St Bernard
dog myth, it is best to postpone the brandy until you are back at the