A suburb scene overlaid with orange flames and a thermometer in the front left corner

It is well and truly summer with a blast of hot weather set to hit later this week. As NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian declares another State of Emergency, NSW Health have issued a reminder for people to take precautions as the prolonged heat and poor air quality from the current bushfires pose increased risks of illness and distress.

Dr Richard Broome, NSW Health Director of Environmental Health advises people to avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day, to minimise physical activity and to keep well hydrated.

He encourages everyone to take seriously the risk of heat related illness. Some areas of inland NSW are set to scorch with above 40 temperatures for a series of days and in Sydney, temperatures are set to be in the high 30s.

Severe illness, admission to hospital and even death are consequences of heatwaves. Early season high temperatures pack more of a punch for people trying to adapt to the warmer weather and with the circumstance of poor air quality it is a double whammy.

Effects on the Body

Human and animal bodies are placed under additional strain when there is hot weather. The chances of dehydration are increased and underlying health conditions worsen. Heat stress and heat stroke are serious conditions and with any sign of either seek medical assistance immediately.

Who is most at risk?

People over 75, people with chronic medical conditions or a disability, infants and people living alone are particularly vulnerable.

Precaution to help reduce the risk of heat-related illness

  • Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day generally 11am – 4pm
  • Protect yourself and your family from bushfire smoke by staying indoors.
  • If you don’t have air conditioning, use a fan to cool down the air and keep it moving.
  • Keep curtains closed to help keep the heat out.
  • Rest and do minimal physical activity during the peak time of heat
  • Drink plenty of water

Do you have a Bush fire Survival Plan? Check our blog on Fire Safety now for resources and information.

Who to keep in contact with

The elderly, whether neighbours, friends or relatives may appreciate a call or visit to see how they are faring in the hot weather. An invitation to spend the day with you may been welcome until cooler weather returns.

Aged Care Invitation

Some aged care facilities invite the elderly of their community still living at home to join them in their air-conditioned areas to beat the heat and socialise with the residents.

There is a program at a Central West NSW aged care home that offers up to 28 days of complimentary short-term respite which includes time for rest, nutritious daily meals and being comfortable in air-conditioned rooms.


Image caption: A group of women sitting around a dining table having afternoon tea

Signs of heat-related illness

  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Thirst
  • Fainting
  • Muscle pains or cramps
  • Headaches
  • Changes in skin colour
  • Rapid pulse
  • Shallow breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion

If any of these symptoms are present it is important to get to a cool place quickly. People showing severe signs of heat-related illness should seek urgent medical attention and in an emergency call Triple 000 (000)

With the threat of fire and other emergency situations high this summer, being ready to leave by preparing an Emergency Go Bag of essentials might be vital!

NSW Health have a booklet "Beat the Heat: Health tips for a safe season" that provides important information about health and hot weather. It is for anyone who cares for, supports or assists people at risk of serious health effects from hot weather. It includes tips and ideas on how to keep someone healthy during hot weather. Click on the following link to access this booklet.

Beat the Heat: Health tips for a safe season

Useful resources:

NSW Health website 

Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology Heatwave Service

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