Photo: Dr Chris Buck – South West Hospital and Health Service’s Director of Medical Services

South West residents should follow some simple tips to stay cool and safe during the extended
above average temperature conditions current being experienced throughout the region.

South West Hospital and Health Service Executive Director of Medical Services Dr Chris Buck
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, South West residents should keep
five simple messages in mind at all times:

• Have a plan
• Stay hydrated
• Stay out of the sun wherever possible
• Keep cool
• Look after others.

“Heat-related illnesses have the potential to be life-threatening and may include heat stroke,’’ Dr
Buck said.

“Symptoms may vary from patient to patient 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 Buck 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 Buck 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 Buck said there were some exceptions to the drink plenty of fluids rule.

“There are some patients in the South West with 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 Buck 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.

Dr Buck 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.’’

• For further information call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84), or visit:
www.health.qld.gov.au/disaster/heat/heat-wave.asp

ENDS

For further information contact:
James Guthrie
Principal Media Officer, Rural and Remote Qld
Media and Communication
Department of Health
(07) 3708 5379
Jim.Guthrie@health.qld.gov.au