Five simple precautions to help minimise risk of heat-related illness

Heatwaves lead to a more than 10 per cent increase in both deaths and ambulance call outs, according to a long-term study by NSW Health.

NSW Health’s Director of Environmental Health and co-author of the study, Dr Ben Scalley, said with the start of summer it is important people take heatwaves seriously.

“Prolonged periods of very hot weather can be dangerous because hot weather can overheat the human body, leading to a range of serious illnesses,” Dr Scalley said.

“Certain groups of people are particularly vulnerable, including older people, infants and children, people with a chronic medical condition and those who live alone.

“During hot weather, it’s important to stay in regular contact with elderly neighbours, friends and relatives and to look out for other vulnerable members of their community.”

Dr Scalley said the study showed extreme heatwaves are associated with a 10.8 per cent increase in deaths and 10.9 per cent hike in ambulance call-outs.

The following simple precautions will help minimise the risk of heat-related illness:

  • drink plenty of water, and remember to carry some with you when out and about
  • plan your day around the heat, particularly in the middle of the day, and minimise physical activity
  • keep the sun out by shading windows with curtains, blinds or closing shutters
  • wear light, loose, clothing
  • when outdoors, stay protected from the sun by wearing a hat and sunscreen.