Queenslanders urged to prepare for extreme weather events

Published Wednesday, 28 November, 2018 at 10:18 AM

Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
The Honourable Steven Miles

Health authorities are warning Queenslanders to be on alert, as extreme weather events sweep the state.

Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services Steven Miles is urging people to be prepared, pay attention to their health, and look out for neighbours and loved ones.

“We have a heatwave gripping large parts of the state, fires in the central regions, dust in the south-east, fallen bats in the north, and high winds and storms for other parts of the state,” he said.

“The biggest concern for health authorities today is the heat.

“Experts have advised of very windy conditions in the southern, western and central parts of the state – and combined with hot and dry air, it’s a very serious event.

“I urge all Queenslanders to listen to weather reports, check websites and social media pages for the state’s health and emergency authorities, and be prepared.”

Queensland Health has stood up the State Health Emergency Contact Centre, and activated the State-wide Heatwave Response Plan.

Queensland Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Sonya Bennett is urging people to take precautions against dehydration and other heat-related conditions.

“Anybody can be at risk of heat-related illness but infants, the elderly, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people with some pre-existing medical conditions are particularly vulnerable,” she said.

“Be alert to the symptoms of heat-related illnesses which can range from heat rash, muscle cramps, and heavy sweating, to paleness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and fainting.

“Drink plenty of fluids, preferably cool water, regularly throughout the day – don’t wait until you’re thirsty.

“Stay indoors when possible, preferably in a building with air-conditioning or good air flow, and limit strenuous outdoor activity.

“Stay cool by taking cool showers, soaking feet in water or wearing a wet bandana or washer around your neck.

“Always check the colour of your urine to ensure you are well-hydrated – it should be clear to light straw-coloured, not dark or gold.”

Queensland Ambulance Service has experienced unprecedented workloads this week, primarily due to heat and fire.

On Monday 26 November, QAS Emergency Medical Dispatchers took 2664 Triple Zero (000) calls and paramedics attended 3567 incidents – an additional 336 incidents compared to the same day last year.

QAS Clinical Director Tony Hucker said it was also concerning to see paramedics attended 25 heat-related cases on Monday.

“With the current extreme fire danger in place, we want to reassure Queenslanders that we are here in your time of need,” Clinical Director Hucker said.

“We have additional resources in place in the Wide Bay and Finch Hatton areas, with a further 12 paramedics making their way to the Wide Bay region this morning, taking our total deployment to 19; and a further 10 paramedics deploying to support the Finch Hatton area.

“To date, we have treated 10 patients during the fire response in the Wide Bay area for symptoms including heat stress, chest pain and superficial skin tears.”

Clinical Director Hucker said it’s important people are aware of the signs and symptoms associated with heat-related illnesses.

“Look out for headaches, nausea, cramps, fainting, excessive sweating, tiredness and dizziness,” he said.

“If you suspect someone may be suffering from heat-related illness, call Triple Zero (000) immediately, lay the person down in a cool spot, remove as much clothing as possible and give the person water to drink if they are able to swallow.

“If possible, get them into a cold shower or bath, or cover them with a wet sheet to help cool them down.”

Dr Bennett also urged people to avoid touching bats that may be impacted by the heat.

“I’d urge people to be extra careful and avoid touching or picking up bats,” she said.

“We know bats are being impacted by the heat. If you see a bat on the ground, don’t touch it even if you think it’s dead. Instead, contact your local RSPCA or wildlife organisation who have people trained to handle bats.”

With dust and smoke covering parts of the state, Dr Bennett said people with respiratory issues should stay indoors with windows and doors closed, and avoid vigorous exercise.

“If you are experiencing any adverse reactions to the dust, such as shortness of breath, prolonged coughing or wheezing, seek medical advice,” she said.


Media contacts:

Queensland Health: 3708 5376

QAS: 3635 3900 

Minister Miles: Katherine Wright -0428 957 903