06 December 2023

With much of NSW forecast to experience severe heatwave conditions over the coming days, NSW Health is urging residents to plan ahead and take steps to beat the heat.

NSW Health Executive Director of Health Protection, Dr Jeremy McAnulty said people should take extra care to prevent heat-related illness.

“Hot weather puts a lot of strain on the body, including dehydration, and can make underlying health conditions worse," Dr McAnulty said.

Heatwaves can be dangerous for everyone's health, but some people are more vulnerable, including people over 65 years, babies and young children, people with certain medical conditions, people who work outside, pregnant women, people who live alone or are socially isolated and people who are homeless.

“It is important for people to know the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and take precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones cool," Dr McAnulty said.

“If they can, they should also take the time to check on vulnerable and elderly neighbours and family to ensure their safety in the heat."

By taking simple precautions, people can reduce their risk of heat-related illness. These include:

  • Avoid being outdoors in the hottest part of the day
  • Keep the home cooler by using air-conditioning or electric fans and closing doors, windows, blinds and curtains before it gets hot
  • Limit physical activity to early in the morning when it's coolest
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water regularly, before you are thirsty. If a person has had their fluid intake restricted by a doctor, ask them about how much they should drink when it is hot
  • When outdoors, apply sunscreen and wear sunglasses and a wide brim hat to protect the eyes, face, and scalp
  • If your house can't be kept cool, seek out cool places or air-conditioned public facilities in the local area before it gets hot

Signs of heat-related illness can include dizziness, tiredness, irritability, thirst, fainting, muscle pains or cramps, heavy sweating, shallow breathing and vomiting.

People with these symptoms should take steps to cool down right away, move out of the sun and seek shade or air conditioning, take a cool shower or bath if possible and drink water.

People who don't respond to these steps or show symptoms suggesting a more severe illness, including a sudden rise in body temperature, confusion, slurred speech, strange behaviour, loss of consciousness, muscle twitching or seizures, rapid breathing and a quick and strong pulse, should seek urgent medical attention or call Triple Zero (000).

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