Residents warned to monitor their health over summer heatwave

As the mercury rises, medical experts are warning residents to stay vigilant.

Local medical experts have raised concerns for the health and safety of residents during this week’s sweltering heats, urging everyone to be mindful of the consequences of heat stress.

A specialist in heat stress, Ballarat Health Services staff physician of adult medicine James Hurley said people of all ages were at risk of heat-related emergencies.

“Some people are at more risk than others. We do tend to worry about people who are very young or the elderly, particularly those with medical or psychiatric conditions,” he said.

“Those people might not know how hot it is or are unable to get into the shade.

“People who do strenuous activity on a hot day and those who may be physically fit may also over-do it and not be aware heat stress is happening.”

Dr Hurley said residents needed to be wary of their own activity as well as the whereabouts of elderly family members and neighbours and ensure they were situated in suitable conditions during the heat.

“Be aware that you may know someone that may be stuck indoors without cooling methods,” he said.

“Consequences of heat stress include the inability to think. In some people it might feel like they are mildly drunk.

“Try to avoid the heat, wear sensible clothing including a wide brimmed hat, carry an umbrella and keep fluids up.”

Ballarat Health Services’ head of paediatrics David Tickell said with the temperature inside a car exceeding temperatures outside, children left inside were a major concern during the summer period. 

“Every year, unfortunately, children are left in cars with consequences often fatal,” he said. “Leaving a child in the car is exceptionally bad. A child’s water-energy requirements are higher than an adult’s and they become unwell faster. With no air circulation in a car, they are at more risk than sitting directly in the sun.”

Dr Tickell said parents needed to be keep an eye on their children and avoid leaving them unattended inside a car.

“People feel it’s hotter outside of a car but, without circulation, it heats up more inside the car and is unsafe,” he said.

Residents are urged to call Direct2care with any questions about heat-related concerns.

alicia.thomas@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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