The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting that Western and North Western Regions will be affected by a heat wave over the coming days. Almost all of the Far West NSW LHD will experience higher than average temperatures by as much as 13 degrees over the coming week. With temperatures expected to reach above 40, Far West NSW LHD is urging people to take the risk of heat-related illness seriously.
Dr Therese Jones, Population Health Director said that, while heat-related illness may affect anyone, certain groups are particularly vulnerable. These include the over 75s, infants and children, people with a chronic medical condition and people who live alone.
”Australians are accustomed to hot weather and generally consider themselves resilient to such conditions. However, the January 2009 heat wave, which caused many deaths in Victoria and South Australia, is a stark reminder that extreme heat presents a real and potentially life-threatening risk,” said Dr Jones. “During a heat wave, it is very important to stay in regular contact with your elderly friends, neighbours and relatives, and to look out for other vulnerable members of your community.”
Some simple precautions will help people minimise their risk of heat-related illness:
- Drink plenty of water, and remember to carry some with you when you’re out and about.
- Avoid alcohol, hot or sugary drinks.
- Plan your day around the heat. Stay indoors between 11am and 3 pm and minimise physical work activity.
- Keep the sun out of your house by shading windows with an awning, shade-cloth or plants. Shutting curtains will help.
- Keep windows closed during the day. Open them when it cools down at night or the early morning.
- If you have an air conditioner, make sure it is working.
- If you do not have an air conditioner try to spend some time in an air conditioned environment.
- Wear light loose fitting clothing made from natural fibres like cotton
“Signs of heat-related illness include confusion, dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, weakness, headaches and loss of sweating,” Dr. Jones said. “People showing any of these signs should seek urgent medical attention through their GP or local emergency department.”
More information about heat-health, including downloadable advice in several languages, can be found on the NSW Health website: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/heat/index.asp