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Hot, dry summer forecast prompts medical reminders

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Forecasters are warning the upcoming summer season will be both hotter and dryer than in recent years.

With that in mind, the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network (HNECC PHN) is urging Hunter residents to be prepared, stay informed and know their options.

News reports suggest almost 62,000 people died from record-breaking heat in Europe last summer, with Australians being warned of possible similar heat waves.

Heatwaves kill more Australians than other natural hazards events.

The increased threats according to weather forecasters, lie in the combination of patterns.

“We’re expecting a very hot and dry summer, and because of this we need to be prepared for a range of hazards including heat, bush fire and smoke,” says local General Practitioner Dr John Goswell.

“Each of these hazards can cause health problems including dehydration, heat exhaustion, coughing or breathing difficulties from smoke.

“To prepare for these hazards ensure you have enough extra food, water and medication at home, so you can avoid going out in the smoke or heat.

“Turn on your air-conditioning or fan to stay cool at home, stay hydrated and talk to your doctor about how the heat or smoke may affect your health.

“Always follow advice of the authorities and emergency services and if you need to evacuate be prepared and do so early.”

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has declared that an El Niño and positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) are underway.

The pairing brings about a drying effect that is typically stronger and more widespread and brings with it a higher risk of water scarcity, heat events, flash droughts and early onset of fire weather conditions.

The PHN is also reminding Hunter residents to check if they are eligible for energy rebates to assist with costs associated with cooling their homes.

Other advice includes staying informed by listening to updates and staying connected with family and friends.

By downloading smartphone apps, like Hazards Near Me, people can stay up to date on local bush fires and weather events as well.

“It’s important to know your options,” adds Dr Goswell.

“If your home is not cool, consider visiting public air-conditioned spaces during the hottest times of the day.

“Always follow advice of the authorities and emergency services and if you need to evacuate, be prepared and do so early, and don’t hesitate to ask your family or friends for help when you need it.”

In an emergency phone 000 immediately for an ambulance or visit the closest hospital Emergency Department for major, life-threatening illnesses and injuries. 

If you’re feeling unwell, or have a minor injury or illness the advice is to call your GP, visit Patientinfo, visit www.healthdirect.gov.au, phone the HealthDirect hotline to speak to a registered nurse on 1800 022 222 or speak to a pharmacist.

Medicare Urgent Care Centres will also be open across the region from November.

“Let’s all look after each other this summer.”

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