KEEP COOL: top tips for western QLD residents
WESTERN Queensland residents should follow some simple tips to stay cool and safe during expected hot weather conditions over the coming weeks and into the festive season.
South West Hospital and Health Service Executive Director of Medical Services Dr Tim Smart said hot weather could adversely affect a person’s health if precautions were not taken to avert risk in the early stages.
He said with extreme heat events becoming more common, Western Queensland residents should keep five simple messages in mind:
Have a plan
Stay out of the sun wherever possible
Look after others.
“Heat-related illnesses have the potential to be life-threatening and may include heat stroke,’’ Dr Smart said.
“Symptoms may vary from person to person, but it is important to be aware of the various illnesses and the warning signs.
“A person suffering from heat exhaustion may present with symptoms that include muscle cramps, heavy sweating, paleness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting and fainting.
“Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness that presents with symptoms similar to heat exhaustion, but which may also include an extremely high body temperature; red, hot, dry skin, but possibly some clamminess; a rapid pulse; headache and confusion.
“If you suspect someone is suffering from a heat-related illness, you should seek medical assistance immediately or phone Triple Zero (000).
‘‘To assist someone affected by the heat, cool the person down urgently with a cool shower, bath or sponge, or even spray them with cool water from a hose. Loosen their clothing and have them rest in a cool place.
“Provide cool non-alcoholic fluids, but only if you are confident they can swallow. Avoid drinks high in sugar and caffeine.
“If they become unconscious, place them on their side and follow the Emergency Medical Dispatcher’s instructions as they provide vital first aid advice until paramedics arrive.”
Dr Smart said with temperatures high, it was also timely to remind people to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
Dehydration is a loss of water and salts from the body.
Dr Smart said most of the human body was made of water, so when the temperature rose and the body tried to cool itself by sweating, dehydration could be a real concern for children and older people.
“In severe cases, dehydration can result in shock, which affects blood flow in the body, and can even result in death,’’ he said.
‘‘So, drink plenty of fluids and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink – drink regularly throughout the day.
“Urine colour is a good guide to hydration – it should be clear to light straw-colour, not dark or gold.’’
Dr Smart said there were some exceptions to the drink plenty of fluids rule.
“There are some people who might have fluid restrictions in relation to their conditions.
“If you have a specific condition and have been advised to restrict your fluid intake, of course, follow your doctor’s orders.’’
Dr Smart said staying indoors in very hot weather also was a good idea.
“Ensure there is good air flow with fans and open windows or switch on an air conditioner,’’ he said.
“If you are out in the sun, make sure you wear a hat, sunglasses and apply sunscreen – and try to limit strenuous activity.’’
Dr Smart also encouraged people to look out for one another.
‘‘Some people are more prone to heat-related illnesses including the elderly, infants, overweight and obese people, pregnant and breastfeeding women and people with some pre-existing health conditions,’’ he said.
“Check in on family, friends and neighbours who may be more prone to heat-related illness to make sure they are okay. If you’re working outside be sure to take precautions to ensure you keep cool.
“And remember, never, ever. leave children, or animals, or anyone, unattended in cars in the heat.
Temperatures can rise very rapidly and can be fatal in a surprisingly short period of time.’’