Doctors urge care during heatwave

January 4, 2014 – 12:01AM

Cameron Atfield

Brisbane Times and Sun-Herald journalist


As Queenslanders brace for summer’s hottest days so far, the state’s medical fraternity has urged residents to look after themselves and each other as temperatures nudge 40 degrees.

With the Bureau of Meteorology predicting a top of 41 degrees in Brisbane on Saturday and as high as 45 in Longreach and Winton, doctors are bracing for a spike in heat-related illnesses and injuries.

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Christian Rowan said major health risks accompanied the heatwave that was gripping the state.

Brisbane is set to swelter through its hottest day of the year.

Brisbane is set to swelter through its hottest day of the year. Photo: Michelle Smith

“The extreme heat we’re seeing at the moment can certainly predispose people to becoming dehydrated and suffering from heat related exhaustion and stress,” he said.


“Those people particularly at risk are the elderly or those who may have chronic complex diseases.

“Heat related stress can also affect young children, those who are pregnant and also babies, so it’s very important that fluids are maintained, particularly if people are outside in the middle of the day.”



Dr Rowan said children and pets should never be left in a stationary car, which could result in death.

He said it was also important to check up on elderly neighbours and relatives, who may be forced to suffer in silence and in isolation within their homes.

“Even though they may be inside, temperatures inside houses can become significantly elevated when the outside temperature is quite hot as well and they can become dehydrated indoors,” he said.

If going outside, Dr Rowan said the old “slip, slop, slap” adage was as relevant now as it was in the ’80s when the campaign first started.

And the consecutive days of stifling heat, particularly in western Queensland, only added to the medico’s concern.

“If people aren’t hydrating adequately every day, it can have a cumulative affect with additional strain on their heart and kidneys in particular,” Dr Rowan said.

The Brisbane Times

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