Here comes the heat!

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Sun smart practices are being encouraged this week as the heat ramps up across Canterbury.
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Te Mana Ora / Community and Public Health is urging Cantabrians to keep cool and hydrated during what looks set to be a stretch of scorching temperatures hitting the region this week.

Hot weather is forecast for Ashburton with temperatures predicted to get to a maximum of 28 degrees tomorrow and Friday, then even higher temperatures set to continue next week.

Dr Ramon Pink, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health for Te Whatu Ora, National Public Health Service, says while we may welcome a run of hot weather, the heat can affect us all and 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,” he says.

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

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 e.g. an air-conditioned public building, Marae or church, all of which tend to be cool in summer.

People should keep medicines below 25C degrees or in the refrigerator (read the storage instructions on the packaging).

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.