NSW Health today warned of the potential health risks associated with predicted hot weather leading up to New Year’s Eve celebrations.
“A prolonged period of hot, humid northerly winds will bring severe heatwave conditions to parts of NSW mainly from the Great Divide to the coast this week, with extreme heatwave conditions developing along the north and mid-north coasts” Bureau of Meteorology Acting NSW Regional Director, Stephen Lellyett said.
“Many centres east of the Divide, particularly in the north coast area, will see overnight temperatures above 20 degrees with daytime maximums above 35 degrees through to the end of the weekend. A slow moving cool change approaching southwest NSW on Thursday is not expected to clear the NSW north coast until next Monday,” Mr Lellyett said.
NSW Health’s Director of Environmental Health, Dr Ben Scalley, said with high temperatures forecast it was important that people take precautions to prevent heat-related illness..
“Heat-related illness is very serious and ranges from mild conditions to very serious medical emergencies,” Dr Scalley said.
“While heat-related illness can affect anyone, certain groups of people are particularly vulnerable.
“These include older people, infants and children, people with a chronic medical condition and those who live alone.
“During hot weather, it’s important to stay in regular contact with elderly neighbours, friends and relatives and to look out for other vulnerable members of their community.
“Heat puts a lot of strain on the body and can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. It can also make underlying health conditions worse.
“Being prepared and taking simple precautions reduces the risk of heat-related illness.”
Dr Scalley said the following simple precautions will help minimise the risk of heat-related illness.
- 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 in early morning.
- If you don’t have an air-conditioner, try to spend time in an air-conditioned place like a shopping centre, library or cinema.
- Wear light, loose-fitting clothing made from natural fibres like cotton.
- When outdoors, stay protected from the sun by wearing a hat and sunscreen.
“Signs of heat-related illness may include nausea, vomiting, faintness and dizziness, loss of appetite, weakness, headaches, loss of sweating and reduced urine output,” Dr Scalley said.
“People showing severe signs of heat-related illness should seek urgent medical attention through their GP or the emergency department at their nearest hospital.
“And it is absolutely essential children and pets are not left in cars. They will become distressed and seriously ill in a matter of minutes.”
More information about heat-health, including downloadable advice in several languages, can be found on the NSW Health website ‘Beat the Heat’: