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How to beat the heat

Saturday, 5th January, 2019

Sarah Smith and her daughters (from left), Emily (6) and Chloe (4) were just three of the people who decided to beat yesterday’s scorching heat at the Broken Hill Regional Aquatic Centre. PICTURE: Emily Ferguson Sarah Smith and her daughters (from left), Emily (6) and Chloe (4) were just three of the people who decided to beat yesterday’s scorching heat at the Broken Hill Regional Aquatic Centre. PICTURE: Emily Ferguson

By Emily McInerney

A local doctor is encouraging residents to take it easy to avoid getting sick.

Dr Ramu Nachiappan said heatstroke was dangerous, especially among outdoor workers.

“Try and avoid prolonged exposure to hot environments,” Dr Nachiappan said yesterday.

“Stay in a cool area like shaded areas, and increase the amount of daily fluid intake. 

“It helps if the fluid is cool as this will assist in lowering the body temperature as well.

“I would recommend not working outdoors when the temperature is greater than 35 degrees Celsius. 

“If an outdoor worker, negotiate with your employer as it is their obligation to provide a safe work environment under OH&S legislation.”

Dr Nachiappan said it can be hard to avoid the heat, so it was important to take regular breaks if working outdoors and to drink more frequently. 

It was also better to wear a shirt rather than a singlet, or worse, no top at all “which a lot of men like doing in Broken Hill during hot weather,” he said. 

“In the long run they will experience an increased risk of skin cancers.” 

Dr Nachiappan said it was important to take note of the signs of heatstroke.

“Any exertion increases the body heat, so simple activities in the hot weather are just as likely to result in overheating compared to doing a fitness workout in an air-conditioned environment such as a gym. 

“Heat-related illness can develop over days. Some of the early signs include headaches, light headedness, muscle cramps. 

“Late signs include confusion, slurred speech, hot to touch but lack of sweating. 

“These are serious indicators of the effects of heat and untreated can lead to death.

“If concerned rehydrate as a matter of urgency and seek medical attention either at your GP or at the hospital emergency department.”

In general, higher temperatures lead to more hospitalisations for heat stress and dehydration, particularly among older people, children, people who work outdoors, and people with pre-existing medical conditions.   

With Australia having one of the world’s highest levels of UV exposure, sun protection is another important consideration during summer.

A recent Lancet report found that average summer temperatures have increased by 0.9 degrees Celsius since 2000, with a strong association between hot days and higher mortality. It also found a strong relationship between hot days and increased suicide rates.

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