Councils fight back on heat

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 more vulnerable in the community. 

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 to 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. 

“It affects cognitive function, it affects our mood, it affects our heart and our kidneys,” she said. 

“And so when we’re looking at outdoor workers, particularly, it’s often heart failure or renal failure that are the most dangerous for them. 

“It is important that potential warning signs are not ignored which may indicate heat stress, such as feeling dizzy, a racing pulse, or nausea.

“If you encounter any of these symptoms, especially if you have a pre-existing heart condition, please seek medical attention without delay.” 

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

Dr Arnagretta Hunter is a member of CAHA, DEA, a cardiologist and researcher at ANU. She can be reached on: 0418 419 414