NSW Health is warning people to take precautions to protect their health from the early season heat wave that is forecast for parts of NSW this weekend and early next week.
Maximum temperatures in the mid to high 30s are forecast for many regions of the state, with areas of the South Coast expected to experience heatwave conditions commencing on Sunday.
Dr Jeremy McAnulty, Executive Director of Health Protection at NSW Health, said that simple precautions can reduce the risk of heat-related illness.
“It’s important you do not allow yourself to become too hot or dehydrated by minimizing physical activity outdoors during the day and staying well hydrated by drinking water. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty before drinking water,” Dr McAnulty said.
“It’s best to try and avoid the heat of the day by staying indoors and keeping curtains and blinds shut early. If you don’t have air conditioning, using a fan, wetting your skin with a sponge, spray or water-soaked towel can help to keep you cool.”
People over 65, people with chronic medical conditions and babies and young children are particularly sensitive to the heat. Dr McAnulty urged people to stay in regular contact with elderly neighbors, friends and relatives who may need help.
Heat exposure can cause severe illness, hospital admission and even death. Heat can worsen the risk of underlying health conditions and cause a severe medical episode such as a heart attack or difficulty breathing.
Signs of heat-related illness include dizziness, tiredness, irritability, excessive thirst, fainting, headache, changes in skin color, rapid pulse, shallow breathing, nausea, vomiting and confusion.
People showing signs of severe heat-related illness should cool down immediately by taking a cold shower or bath if possible, or by fully wetting the skin with water while lying in the shade, and seek urgent medical attention. In an emergency, call Triple Zero (000).
Dr McAnulty also advised that with Sydney and other parts of NSW experiencing poor air quality due to hazard reduction burns, people are encouraged to check the air quality levels where they live and the health activity guide.
Here are some key tips to stay safe during a heat wave:
- Stay in the coolest place possible, ideally somewhere with air conditioning.
- Drink plenty of fluids, even if you’re not thirsty. Water is best, but you can also drink diluted fruit juice or sports drinks.
- Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day.
- Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.
- Seek shade whenever possible.
- Take cool showers or baths.
- Check on elderly neighbors, friends and relatives who may need help.
If you experience any signs of heat-related illness, such as dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, cool down immediately and seek medical attention if necessary.