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It’s super-hot: watch babies and elderly

January 30 2020

With Metservice predicting temperatures of over 30 degrees every day for at least the next seven days in Hawke’s Bay, advice on how to keep people safe is being issued by Hawke’s Bay District Health Board.

The vulnerable, especially the elderly and babies, need extra care, says Communities, Women and Health medical director Philip Moore. “Babies and young children need to be watched carefully as they are at higher risk than others of dehydrating quickly in this heat.”

The advice is to breastfeed or bottle feed baby more often, offer older babies and young children water often, and dress youngsters in cool clothing and keep them out of the sun.

“And never leave children in a car, even for a moment – that is a truly dangerous thing to do. It can lead to serious dehydration and even death.”

With schools starting back, plan any outdoor activities early in the day to avoid the sun between 11am and 4pm when its ultraviolet rays are most fierce. Make sure there is shade available and encourage students to wear broad brimmed hats and apply sun screen often.

Signs that children are becoming dangerously dehydrated include: Pale clammy skin, sleepiness and floppiness, fewer wet nappies than usual; urine dark (should be a light straw colour); irritability. If parents are concerned about their child and an extra drink of water is not helping, they should seek advice from their GP or phone the Healthline: 0800 611 116.

Older people can also be at risk, especially those who suffer from confusion. They may not know or may not be able to communicate that they are thirsty.

“Dehydration can make confusion worse. Older people being cared for should be offered water more often than usual, kept as cool as possible, and watched for changes in condition, especially increased confusion or fainting.

Another group at risk are outdoor workers – those working in orchards, on road projects or at outdoor entertainment facilities.

“Make sure you have water with you and drink it often, have a hat on, wear loose cool clothing that protects you from the sun, and reapply sunscreen often – especially if you’re sweating.”

The forecast temperatures, as at Thursday (January) showed an average 33 degrees across the next seven days, with highs of 34 forecast for Friday of this week, and Sunday and Monday next week.


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