17 February 2023

Heatwave on the way for Riverina - MLHD issues health alert

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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heat related illness

Murrumbidgee Local Health District is reminding people to take the risk of heat-related illness seriously. Photo: Antonio Diaz.

Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) has issued a public health alert this week relating to expected hot weather for several days in a row.

MLHD issued a statement reminding locals to take the risk of heat-related illness seriously as the temperatures are anticipated to reach the high thirties and low forties this week.

MLHD acting director public health Alison Nikitas said that while heat-related illness might affect anyone, certain groups were particularly vulnerable, including people who live alone, infants and children, older persons and people with a chronic medical condition.

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“Heat puts a lot of strain on the body and can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. It can also make underlying health conditions worse,” Ms Nikitas said.

“However, being prepared and taking some simple precautions can reduce the risk of heat-related illness.

“In this extended period of hot weather we need to keep in contact with elderly friends, neighbours and relatives, and also be mindful that babies and children can overheat and dehydrate quickly.”

MLHD Disaster Manager Denise Garner.

MLHD Disaster Manager Denise Garner. Photo: Rebekah Manwaring.

MLHD Disaster Manager Denise Garner encouraged people to be aware of the early signs of heat-related illness, and to seek medical care early.

“Headaches and vomiting, and particularly things like confusion and an altered mental state, are things to be concerned about and signs that you should head to the emergency department so they can institute some cooling measures and rehydrate you with some fluids, ” Ms Garner said.

The district disaster manager said it was not just about the warm temperatures during the day but also the overnight temperatures.

“We have to realise the overnight minimums aren’t very low,” Ms Garner said.

“Normally, this time of the year, it would get down to 13 or 14 degrees overnight, but tonight we’re going to see 20 to 23 degrees across MLHD.

“There is no relief or reprieve overnight.”

Ms Garner said people should hydrate during the cooler evenings to ensure they were prepared for the next day’s heat.

“If I don’t get enough fluids on board today, then that puts me behind the eight ball tomorrow and I’m trying to play catch up for the day before,” she said.

“People have to make a conscious effort to make sure they keep their fluids up today and be ready for higher temperatures and heat tomorrow.”

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Simple steps to minimise the risk of heat-related illness include:

  • Drink plenty of water, and carry some with you when you’re out
  • Eat smaller, cold meals such as salad and fruit
  • If you are travelling, take water to drink in case you break down or are delayed
  • Avoid alcoholic, hot or sugary drinks
  • Plan your day around the heat. Stay indoors between 11 am and 5 pm and minimise physical activity
  • Keep the sun out of your house by shading windows with an awning, shade cloth or plants. Shut curtains and blinds, and use fans and air-conditioning where available
  • Take cool showers or baths or put your feet in cool water
  • Seek air-conditioned public buildings such as libraries and shopping centres

For more information about staying healthy in the heat, as well as tips and tricks for keeping cool and staying hydrated, click here. Trusted health advice is available by calling HealthDirect on 1800 022 222.

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