14 December 2017

​Stay cool and hydrated is the message from NSW Health today, as the first heatwave for summer is set to sweep through much of the state.

Dr Ben Scalley, Director of Environmental Health, said temperatures are forecast to hit the high thirties and low forties throughout NSW, so it was important people took precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses.

A NSW Health study published this year found extreme heatwaves lead to a more than 10 per cent increase in both deaths and ambulance callouts.

“People can be unprepared for the first heat spike of summer, so we are reminding them to take safety measures against the effects of overheating and sun exposure,” Dr Scalley said.

“It’s important people keep up their water intake, stay cool and avoid strenuous physical activity in the heat of the day.

“Heat places a lot of strain on the body and can interfere with blood circulation and cause dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”

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

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

To avoid heat-related illnesses people should take these precautions:

  • 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.

“Some groups of people are mostly vulnerable to heat-related illnesses, including older people, infants and children, people with a chronic medical condition and those who live alone,” Dr Scalley said.

“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.”

More information can be found at the NSW Health website Beat the heat.

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