Southland Hospital Emergency Department plea: take care in the sun

Drink plenty of water, apply sunscreen and cover up, and don’t spend too long in the sun.

This is the message from Southland Hospital’s Emergency Department, following a spate of heat-related presentations in the past day.

Southlanders have arrived at the emergency department with affects from faintness to kidney trauma, leading Southern DHB’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Tim Mackay to call for care during the hot spell which has seen the region record its hottest ever temperatures.

Mackay says to particularly keep an eye on our elderly, and young children, who may experience the effects of heat more acutely.

However, he comments that the presentations to the emergency department have mainly been younger, otherwise healthy people.

“Dehydration can occur quite quickly, and with these hot conditions being less common in Southland, it’s possible people are not as quick to pick up on the symptoms,” he says. People should be looking to drink around two litres of water per day, he says.

“We ask people to de particularly careful about the effects of drinking alcohol in the hot weather. Far from quenching your thirst it will speed up dehydration, and can be quite serious.”

Avoiding sunburn is also important in these conditions by applying sunscreen and avoiding the sun where possible, Mackay adds, although comments that this has not led to increased presentations at the Emergency Department.

Those suffering the effects of heat should in most cases contact their GP in the first instance. “Please save ED for emergencies.”