September heatwave looms

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Sydney and Brisbane are set for a “savage” heatwave this weekend, prompting calls for the public to be cautious

President of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, ACEM President Professor Tony Lawler has warned that: “With temperatures set to soar in Sydney and Brisbane this weekend, our message is simple: use common sense to stay out of the emergency department.

“Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, avoid the sun, and stay in touch with friends and family.”

The Bureau of Meteorology predicts parts of Sydney’s west would be over 30 degrees for the next four days, peaking on Saturday. In Brisbane, the mercury is expected to rise above 30 degrees.

Emergency departments see cases of people suffering from heatstroke, dehydration, exhaustion and other heat-related illness, with those at higher risk being the vulnerable members of our community – the elderly, the very young, and people with certain conditions (such as heart disease, mental illness or obesity), as well as athletes and outdoor workers.

Former pharmacist of the year and Queenslander Karalyn Huxhagen says pharmacists can do their bit to help keep such patients out of emergency departments during the heatwave.

“We’re warning people to stay well hydrated, but in saying that, it’s not just a case of drinking water: too much water by itself can cause issues.

“So we’re speaking to people about using oral rehydration solutions, whatever electrolyte solution they like, but at least two servings a day.

“People need to be aware that cars will be extremely hot. So opening up their car and not getting straight in is particularly important for our cardiac patients. If you step straight in and drive away, the heat in that car can be overpowering and people have been lost that way.

“People need to stay cool, stay in shady places. And don’t leave your kids in the car, don’t leave your dog in the car.”

She says the heat is expected to be “savage”.

“They reckon this is going to be a phenomenal peak – extremely roasting, intense heat like we get out west. On the coast they’re used to a nice cool breeze, but this will be more like the heat somewhere in Emerald: it’s a different kind of heat, and I don’t really think my coastal patients understand how severe it’s going to be.”

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