Doctors issue warning about Kalgoorlie heat and blackout

Doctors for the Environment Australia

Doctors are worried about the health impacts of the heatwave and prolonged power outage in Kalgoorlie, WA.

Doctors for the Environment Australia’s spokesperson and Perth GP Dr George Crisp says, “Heat is dangerous to health and remains our biggest killer, and it’s critical that people have access to cooling.

“As well as the risks of heat exhaustion and heat stroke in these extreme conditions, we know that heat exposure increases the risks of many serious illnesses such as heart and respiratory diseases, mental health presentations and premature births.

“Certain people have a higher risk of illness during heatwaves. These include older adults, and individuals with underlying health conditions and in the case of Kalgoorlie, those reliant on electricity-dependent medical equipment.

“Like food, medicines are perishable products and will degrade with exposure to higher temperatures. Some medicines need to be refrigerated between +2°C and +8°C or their effectiveness can deteriorate.

“If the power has been off for a while and people are concerned about a particular medicine, they need to contact their pharmacist or doctor.”

Tips to stay safe in the heat:

  • drink water to stay hydrated
  • avoid alcohol
  • use cold washcloths, especially on the back of your neck
  • get in the bath, or put your feet in a bowl of water
  • wear wet clothes
  • do not leave anyone in parked cars
  • provide enough shade and water for pets
  • air hot buildings whenever it is cooler outside — usually this is at night
  • Check on vulnerable family members and neighbours

Says Dr Crisp, “We are seeing increased extreme weather events, the latest storm and power outage s an example of exactly what has been foreshadowed as a consequence of climate change. Ditching gas and coal and switching to renewables will reduce the risks to our health.”

Handy fact sheet on heat and health

/Public Release.