Extreme heat can affect anyone – here’s how to stay safe

Sydney Harbour from the Hermitage Walk in the eastern suburbs

Several parts of Australia are set to swelter over the coming days, with experts predicting record-breaking heatwave conditions.

Dr Jeremy McAnulty, NSW Health Executive Director, said a few basic tips could keep us well in the heat.

“People can be unprepared for the first real heat of summer, so this is a reminder of the safety measures we can all take to limit overheating and sun exposure,” he said.

“It’s important to keep up water intake, stay cool and avoid strenuous physical activity in the heat of the day because heat places a lot of strain on the body and cause dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”

Dr McAnulty said it was also very important to be aware of other vulnerable members of the community like the elderly, infants and children, people with a chronic medical condition and those who live alone.

“During hot weather, it’s also important to stay in regular contact with elderly neighbours, friends and relatives, because helping them do basic chores to keep them out of the heat could make a life-saving difference,” he said.

Initial signs of heat-related illness may include faintness and dizziness, irritability, thirst, dark urine, headaches and later changes in skin colour, rapid pulse and shallow breathing, vomiting and confusion.

Dr McAnulty said it’s to drink plenty of water and quickly cool down if symptoms occur. People showing severe signs of heat-related illness should seek urgent medical attention.

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 days around the heat, particularly the middle of the day, and minimise physical activity.

• Keep the sun out by shading windows with curtains, closing shutters and windows during the day until it cools down and shut again in the early morning.

• Spend time in an air-conditioned places 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.

More information can be found at the NSW Health website www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/beattheheat