Heatwave Health Warning

Heatwave Health Warning

Thursday 9 January 2014


Everyone should think carefully about how to best cope with the coming heatwave, the Australian Medical Association (WA) said today.


The coming days will be particularly dangerous for people with existing medical conditions, and it was important that everyone be ready to recognise any symptoms of heat exhaustion, AMA (WA) President Dr Richard Choong said.


“Hot weather combined with high humidity reduces the human body’s ability to cool itself through sweating, which can lead to excessive overheating. Heat exhaustion is a silent killer so it is important to remain aware of the impact of high temperatures, especially on the young and elderly,” Dr Choong said.


Heat and humidity are responsible for more deaths than any other weather conditions.


Symptoms of heat exhaustion include increased heart rate, vomiting, dizziness, confusion, headaches, nausea and cramps.


“Anyone experiencing these symptoms should take quick action to cool down, drink water and seek medical attention if their condition does not improve.


“It is vital that people avoid long periods in the sun – especially at midday – and find relief in cooler, shadier areas,” Dr Choong said.


He also reminded people to avoid exercising or playing vigorous outdoor sports during the heatwave.


“We advise people to remain mindful that they should take it easy during hot weather conditions, drink lots of water throughout the day, apply sunscreen regularly , limit the consumption of dehydrating drinks like caffeine and alcohol, wear a hat and light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing,” he said.


Dr Choong also suggested that West Australians check on elderly neighbours and invite them over if they are not coping with the hot weather.


“Also please don’t forget your pets during any hot spell. As a dog owner, I recommend checking fresh water is always available, along with making sure your pets have access to a cool shady place where they can take shelter from the heat,” he said.


AMA (WA) Hot Weather Tips:
• Drink lots of water, especially for children
• Avoid long periods in the sun
• Apply effective sunscreen lotions if you must go outside
• Limit your alcohol and caffeine consumption
• Wear loose fitting clothing
• Check on your elderly neighbours.

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"It is my hope that we can tackle the challenges our profession faces, united as one. If we dislike our working hours, our pay, gender inequality or low training opportunities, we can change these together. As a nurse in my previous life, I know that when a profession stands as one, people listen."
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