Heatwave-related illnesses prompt renewed warning from NSW ambos
WITH temperatures again predicted to soar into the 40s over the weekend and a number of heat-affected patients already treated in the past week, NSW Ambulance paramedics have reaffirmed advice on avoiding heat-related illness.
Since last Sunday, paramedics have attended homes, workplaces, beaches, sporting fields and residential streets to treat people who have succumbed to the heat.
Cases include bushwalkers who had run out of water, people playing sport in the hottest part of the
day, and those who had spent all day working in the sun. (NB: NSW Ambulance is unable to provide
the exact number of patients due to the many symptoms and varying codes which may or may not be heat-related.) Examples of heat-related cases specifically include:
- Kareela: 60-year-old male experiencing dizzy spells while playing golf.
- Hay: 38-year-old male passed out on lawn.
- Elderly couple, car broken down outside Walgett. Female heat affected.
- Jamisontown: 28-year-old male working in the heat all day, suffering diarrhoea, vomiting,
shivering – suspected heat stroke.
- Woolloomooloo: 75-year-old male found heat affected and lying in the street.
- Millers Point: 25-year-old male suffering suspected heat exhaustion on a worksite.
- Taminda: 35-year-old male in the street, feeling faint, disorientated, sudden onset of a severe
headache, dehydrated and vomiting.
- Picton: Two bushwalkers rescued, one treated for heat exhaustion.
- Umina Beach: 60-year-old female collapsed in the heat.
- Salamander Bay: 17-year-old female collapsed playing touch football, suspected heat stroke.
- Potts Point: 25-year-old female passed out.
- Mount Kuring Gai: Bushwalker on walking track at, run out of water. Heat affected.
- Ettalong Beach: Elderly couple in the street, both heat affected, female collapsed.
- Nelson Bay: Female unconscious at sports complex.
- Milperra: 14-year-old female collapsed, suspected severe heat stroke at a sports field.
- Bronte: 48-year-old male playing tennis, feeling unwell, dizzy and vomiting.
- Roseville: 22-year-old male, clammy, nauseous while playing cricket.
- Collaroy: 23-year-old female suspected heat stroke, on the beach.
NSW Ambulance Director Education Alan Morrison said the above examples show both the symptoms
suffered, and activities to avoid. The range in ages – from children to people aged in their 90s – demonstrates no-one is immune to the effects of the heat.
“Dehydration, sunburn and heat exposure can lead to heat stroke and other life threatening
situations,” Chief Superintendent Morrison said.
“People working in excessively hot environments, such as in roof cavities, can suffer a rapid and
extreme escalation of body temperature which can lead to instant death.
“Dehydration in the frail can lead to confusion and a fall that could easily break a hip which could lead to a loss of independent living, or worse.”
Chief Superintendent Morrison advised particular caution for those intending to spend long periods
“People have a habit of under-estimating the heat and over-estimating their ability. Ideally, they should be planning ahead and staying out of the sun during the hottest part of the day.
“If this cannot be avoided, measures such as regularly drinking small amounts of water and indeed
ensuring you have enough water to last the day, can mean the difference between remaining healthy and ending up in hospital.
“This is particularly the case for those most at risk, including the young, elderly and chronically ill. If
you are in a high risk group, the next few days are not the days to be doing gardening or any
strenuous work either outside, or even inside.”
- stay out of the direct sun – this is particularly important for the elderly and very young;
- drink plenty of water and, if outdoors, make sure you take a water bottle with you;
- cover up with loose-fitting clothing that protects you from the sun; also a hat and sunscreen;
- never leave children or pets shut in your car. Heat generated in a closed car can cause
serious illness or even death;
- drinking alcohol and energy drinks cause dehydration. Consumption should be minimised
during extreme heat;
- drinking tea and coffee is not a replacement for water;
- take a few moments to check on the well-being of your elderly family and friends; and
- if you don’t have an air-conditioner, try to spend time in an air-conditioned place like a
shopping centre, library or cinema.
Be alert to the symptoms of heat exhaustion. These include:
- nausea and vomiting, fainting and dizziness, loss of appetite, weakness, and/or headache.
If any of these symptoms occur, lay the person down, apply cool wet towels around the neck and
under the arms and have them drink cool fluids.
If the person does not respond to treatment or they have severe symptoms like confusion or collapse, call Triple Zero (000) immediately and ask for Ambulance.
More information about heat-health, including downloadable advice in several languages, can be
found on the NSW Health website ‘Beat the Heat’:
Bureau of Meteorology heatwave forecasts are available at: