When temperatures soar: limit your time in the sun, wear sunscreen and look after your health.
With predictions of heatwave-type temperatures across the country this week, Auckland Emergency Management has some handy tips for looking after yourself and your families as the mercury rises.
Acting Director Jennifer Rose says that while temperatures in Auckland are tipped to rise, MetService forecasts haven’t suggested that our region is heading for a true heatwave.
“It looks like we’re in for a hot week here in Auckland but perhaps not as sweltering as elsewhere in the country,” says Ms Rose.
“That said, this is a good reminder of how extreme hot weather can cause some serious problems and how being prepared can lessen the impacts.
“Look after your own health, look out for those that are vulnerable to heat-related issues, take care of your pets and make sure you’re prepared at home for any effects of rising temperatures,” she says.
Heat waves can have severe impacts on human health, and can cause heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, sunburn and heat rash. Heat can kill by pushing the human body beyond its limits.
The best ways to be protected from the ill effects of excessive heat are to dress appropriately, stay indoors, refrain from strenuous work or exercise during the hottest part of the day, and stay hydrated.
Spending at least two hours a day in air conditioning significantly decreases a person’s risk of heat-related illnesses. If you are at risk from excessive heat, you should:
- Make a plan with your household to stay safe in excessive heat
- Drink more fluids (non-alcoholic), regardless of what you’re doing.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and large amounts of sugar – these can cause you to lose body fluids. Replace salt and minerals
- Stay cool indoors – use electric fans, or take a cool shower or bath.
Wear lightweight, loose-fitting and light-coloured clothing and wear a wide-brimmed hat in the sun.
- Seek medical advice if you are on medications that can reduce your tolerance of heat.
- Avoid sunburn and use a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) rating.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes as these can cause hypothermia, especially for the elderly or very young ones.
- Never leave anyone alone in closed vehicles. In the sun, cars can reach more than 60 degrees Celsius within minutes and can kill. Children and pets are especially vulnerable.
- Pace yourself, if you’re not used to working in a hot environment, start slowly and if you become lightheaded, confused, weak or faint, rest in shade immediately.
- Eat small meals and eat more often. Large, heavy meals are more difficult to digest and cause your body to increase internal heat to aid digestion, worsening overall conditions.
- Conserve electricity not needed to keep you cool. During periods of excessive heat, people tend to use a lot more power for air conditioning.
Heatwave proofing your home
- Make sure your home is properly insulated to conserve electricity and reduce your home’s power demands for air conditioning.
- Put weather stripping around doors and windows to keep cool air inside.
- Protect windows from the sun. Hang shades, curtains, awnings, or louvers on windows receiving morning or afternoon sun.
- Refrigerate bottles of drinking water
- Plan simple meals that avoid cooking heat
Looking after animals
Animals can drink three times as much water on a hot summer's day
- Plenty of shade – bring pets inside a cool home; ensure cages or runs are protected from sun and are cool or breezy.
- Cool water – animals can drink up to three times more water on a hot day; provide plenty of water in deep (non-metal) bowls.
- Hot concrete – if it burns your feet, it’ll burn paws too. Walk in early mornings or evenings to avoid hot roads or concrete.
- In the car (or float, or trailer) – hot vehicles can kill. Avoid transporting animals on hot days and don’t leave them in parked vehicles.
Vulnerable animals – pre-existing conditions like heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, respiratory issues or previous heat injury reduce animals’ abilities to tolerate hot conditions.
Read more on the Ministry of Primary Industries’ website.
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