20 December 2019

NSW Health is reminding people to be cautious about heat and smoke exposure during the extreme heatwave that is forecasted for NSW tomorrow.​

NSW Health Director of Environmental Health, Dr Richard Broome, said as temperatures are expected to climb into the mid-40s and with persistent poor air quality from bushfire smoke, people are urged to take extra precautions.

“Being indoors during the heat of the day is the best way to keep cool. Minimising physical activity, staying well hydrated are also important ways of reducing the risk of heat-related illness. Staying indoors and reducing activity are also the best ways to reduce exposure to smoky air,” Dr Broome said.

“Heat puts lot of strain on the body and can cause dehydration, heat stress and heat stroke. It can also make underlying conditions worse. People over the age of 75, people with chronic conditions and those who live alone are most vulnerable.

“Some signs of heat related illness include dizziness, tiredness, irritability, thirst, fainting, muscle pains or cramps, rapid pulse, shallow breathing, vomiting and confusion.

“We know that combined effects of bushfire smoke and extreme temperatures have potential to cause severe illness, hospital admissions and even death,” Dr Broome said.

Simple precautions can reduce the risk of heat-related illness, including:

  • avoid the heat of the day by staying indoors and keeping cool by using air-conditioning, fans and drawing blinds and curtains closed
  • keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  • check on vulnerable neighbours, friends and family by telephone or in person if it is safe for them to do so
  • plan ahead for hot days​

“People with breathing conditions should avoid outdoor physical activity when there’s smoke around and people with asthma should also follow their Asthma Action Plan and carry their relieving medication with them.

“It’s important to get to a cool place quickly if symptoms occur. People showing severe signs of heat-related illness should seek urgent medical attention, in an emergency situation call Triple Zero (000),” Dr Broome said.

More information can be found at the NSW Health website: Bushfire response and recovery and Beat the heat​.