12 November 2015

Stay cool when enjoying the sun this weekend

With a number of events planned in Perth over this weekend, WA Health is reminding Western Australians to take care in the sun.

WA Health Chief Health Officer, Dr Tarun Weeramanthri said many people would not have had time to acclimatise to the expected hot weather, and it was important that people took precautions to avoid heat stress.

“Over the coming days, events such as the cricket test match, the Beaufort St Festival and the Fremantle BeerFest are expected to draw thousands of people outside,” Dr Weeramanthri said.

“While heat stress can affect all of us, the elderly, young children and babies are particularly vulnerable in hot temperatures, as they cannot always regulate their temperature changes efficiently.

Dr Weeramanthri said the effects of heat-related illnesses could range from mild symptoms such as a rash or cramps, to very serious conditions such as heat stroke.

Effects can also build up over a number of days, as people become exhausted from the heat, which could exacerbate heart disease and other chronic problems.

Dr Weeramanthri said people who worked outside or who were not used to the heat, such as travellers from overseas, might also be at a higher risk.

"It’s important to be aware of the risks of heat stress before you head outdoors to enjoy activities," Dr Weeramanthri said.

"People should ensure they have ample supplies of non-alcoholic cool drinks and good sun protection."

Anyone who experiences severe heat-related symptoms, such as a high body temperature; nausea; dry, red, hot skin; and/or a rapid heart rate should seek urgent medical advice.

Tips to help prevent heat-related illness include:

  • drink plenty of water and fluids (note: if your doctor normally limits your fluids or you are on fluid tablets, you may need to check how much to drink while the weather is hot)
  • limit or avoid alcohol
  • wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing
  • apply sunscreen at regular intervals while outdoors
  • reduce physical activity
  • avoid outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day
  • if possible, stay in shaded areas when outdoors
  • know the signs of heat stress (muscle cramps, pallor, dizziness, headache, nausea increased heart rate, fainting, excessive sweating or no sweating with high temperature and hot, dry skin) and seek medical attention if necessary.

For more information visit the Healthy WA website (external site).

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