Prepare for the heat and stay safe

Plan ahead and take care this summer, urges the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM).
 
It’s well known that each year during a heatwave emergency departments see a spike in people needing urgent and serious attention.
 
Many of these people suffer from common heat related illnesses such as heatstroke, dehydration and exhaustion.
 
However, if you, or someone you know, suffers from chronic or serious health issues you could be at risk too, even if you don’t have heat symptoms.
 
Studies have shown that every year during a heatwave the death rate goes up due to exacerbation of chronic health issues, as well as heat related illnesses.

To stay safe this summer, keep it simple:
  • drink plenty of fluids
  • avoid the sun
  • stay in touch with friends and relatives, particularly those who are vulnerable or have chronic health issues.
Dr Alexander Tzannes – emergency physician and expert in heat health – notes that the most vulnerable groups during a heatwave are the very young, the very old and people on multiple medications and/or with chronic illnesses.

“Young children and infants are particularly susceptible to high temperatures and dehydration,” he says, “Toddlers can’t tell you if they’re thirsty so watch for warning signs like irritability, lethargy and if they’re urinating less than normal.”
 
ACEM has produced a Heat Health Resource for Emergency Departments that can be viewed here.
 
Read an interview with Dr Tzannes and his colleague Dr John Kennedy about the resource here.