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Doctor calls for more “cool shelters” on hot days

Climate and Health Alliance 2 mins read

February 7, 2024

 

With heat wave warnings in place for the coming days across WA, doctors are calling on local councils in the West and around the country to help protect the most vulnerable in their communities.

 

Extreme heat is one of the deadliest natural forces in this country, but more than half of deaths during heat waves occur in the most disadvantaged parts of Australia. 

 

Some councils have already implemented new services to protect the most vulnerable.

 

“Extreme heat is a killer,” says Dr Kim Loo, a Western Sydney based GP.

 

Dr Loo has worked closely with council officers in the implementation of heat shelters near Blacktown where she lives and works for those most vulnerable in the community.

 

She is calling for other local councils to offer the same support to the elderly, people with newborn babies and other vulnerable people in the heat, the Blacktown City Council has done.

 

Cool shelters have been developed as a way of helping to protect and offer refuge to those who don’t have access to a cool space for relief on those days when the mercury climbs past 40 degrees.

 

“We’re focused on making sure that everyone in our community has access to a cool place to go,” Dr Loo said.

 

“Extreme heat makes the whole body have to work harder,” Dr Arnagretta Hunter, a cardiologist at Australian National University said.

 

“Heat can affect cognitive function, it affects our mood, our heart and our kidneys.

 

"Heat is dangerous for vulnerable populations, older people and very young children, but also for otherwise healthy outdoor workers in where heatstroke can develop causing heart and kidney failure.

 

"Heat waves impact our work and also our relationships, with increased risk of domestic violence. 

 

“It is important that potential warning signs are not ignored which may indicate heat stress, such as feeling sick, dizzy or a racing pulse and if you encounter any of these symptoms, take action to cool down - a cool place, fans, air-conditioning and drink water - and seek medical attention for ongoing symptoms.”

 

Dr Kim Loo is a member of CAHA, DEA NSW, the AMA, the NSW AMA GP Council, the Royal Australian Council of GP’s, and is Chair of the Hills Drs Association where she lives as well. She can be reached on: Mobile 0404 384 518

 

Dr Arnagretta Hunter is a member of CAHA, a cardiologist and Human Futures Fellow at ANU.  Contact mobile: 0418 419 414

 

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