How to survive today's heatwave

IF YOU consider yourself to be sensitive to heat, here's a suggestion: take off your clothes and stay indoors.

That wasn't quite the advice Clarence Valley Ambulance Service duty officer Scott Acton had to offer ahead of today's scorcher, but it wasn't far off either.

And he hopes people will take heed.

Heatwaves can put an extreme demand on local paramedic resources, and Mr Acton stressed heat-related issues they were called out to in such conditions were often preventable through proper care.

While they haven't recorded any spike in workload yet, the mercury is expected to hit 39 degrees in Grafton and 32 in Yamba today, making it the hottest day in Grafton so far this year.

"It certainly can get busy," he said. "It's okay in the early stages, but after a few consecutive days it becomes a greater issue."

Elderly and young people can be more susceptible to heat exhaustion, but it is the elderly paramedics deal with more often, he said.

"The main thing we need to do is give pre-emptive advice on hydration and how to keep cool," he said.

"We certainly encourage them to use air conditioning and cooling devices, and to dress appropriately. Some (elderly people) still like to have on a couple of layers of clothing and they need to be mindful that it could be detrimental."

Mr Acton said it was important for people to stay inside during the hottest part of the day, and stay well-hydrated with water rather than tea or coffee.

If you have an elderly family member, friend or neighbour at home alone, keep an eye on each other.

Another important thing is for people to know the symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

"Some people don't recognise the signs, but dehydration does come hand in hand with it," he said.

"You might start to feel light-headed or lethargic and will certainly feel hot and thirsty, or generally feel unwell. The big thing is look after yourself to avoid those symptoms. With enough education, it certainly becomes preventable."

"Hopefully we're inside in the air conditioning, rather than out on the road helping others affected by heat."

Meanwhile, detectives from the State Crime Command have re-activated Strike Force Trontoto deal with any suspicious bushfires that arise over the coming months.

Strike Force Tronto, comprised of detectives from the Property Crime Squad's Arson Unit, is the lead investigative body on suspicious or deliberately-lit bushfires which lead to death, serious injury or significant property loss.

The detectives work closely with local area commands from the NSW Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue NSW.

Tips for the elderly:

  • Plan your day in a way that allows you to stay out of the heat during the hottest part of the day. 
  • If you cannot avoid strenuous activity like sport, DIY or gardening, keep it for the cooler parts of the day such as early morning. 
  • Drink water regularly, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol, tea and coffee and sugary or fizzy drinks.
  • Have your air conditioner serviced before summer.  

In case of fire:

  • Follow your Bush Fire Survival Plan. If you do not have one, ensure you know what you will do before, during and after the fire. 
  • Keep yourself informed of nearby incidents through the RFS website and available news outlets, or phone the Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737. 
  • To report a fire emergency, phone 000. 
  • Remember, leaving early is your safest option. 

Pets:

  • Make sure pets have plenty of fresh water, kept in a cool place.  
  • Freeze some pet food in a takeaway container to make a delicious ice block and leave it to gradually defrost. 
  • If you have air-con, consider bringing outdoor pets inside. 
  • Keep your pet's flea treatment up to date. 
  • Clip or trim long-haired dogs and cats to help keep them cool. 
  • Ensure pets have access to some form of shade. 


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