The Heat Is On

Cantabrians are being urged to keep cool and hydrated during a stretch of sweltering temperatures forecast for the region during the first half of this week.

Hot weather is forecast for today through to Wednesday, with MetService predicting maximum temperatures of 29 degrees today, a scorching 36oC on Tuesday and 32oC on Wednesday.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Pink says while we may welcome a run of hot weather, overheating is a condition than can prove fatal.

“It’s especially important to stay out of the sun where possible, avoid extreme physical exertion and ensure pets and people are not left alone in stationary cars.

“While we are all vulnerable to hot temperatures, some people are particularly at risk. This includes the elderly, infants and children, women who are pregnant, people suffering from chronic, acute and severe illness,” says Dr Pink.

However, there are some simple steps that we can all take to reduce the risk to our health when the temperatures are high. They include:
• Avoiding going outside during the hottest time of the day
• Drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol and caffeine
• Wearing lightweight, loose-fitting, light coloured cotton clothes – and a hat
• Staying in the shade where possible.

Dr Pink says people whose work involves strenuous physical activity outdoors should be particularly vigilant to avoid overheating in hot weather.

“It’s important people exposed to hot weather for long periods of time carry water with them and sip at least half a litre an hour, allow for more breaks in the shade, reapply sunscreen every two hours and schedule the hardest work in the coolest part of the day.

“As well as being SunSmart (Slip, Slop, Slap & Wrap) if you have to go outside, everyone is advised to keep their houses cool by closing curtains on windows getting direct sun, opening windows to get a breeze if its cooler out than in, and consider using the cool cycle on heat pumps,” Dr Pink says.

If it’s not possible to keep your home cool, you should look to spend a few hours of the day in a cool place, such as an air-conditioned public building (e.g. a mall or library).

People should keep medicines below 25oC or in the refrigerator (check the storage instructions on the packaging first).

If you feel dizzy, weak or have an intense thirst or headache you may be dehydrated. Drink some water and rest in a cool place. If your symptoms persist or you’re concerned about your health or someone else’s, seek medical advice. You can call your general practice team 24/7 for care around the clock – after hours a nurse can provide free health advice, and tell you what to do and where to go if you need to be seen urgently.