Dozens taken ill as heatwave continues

Dozens taken ill as heatwave continues

02 February 2011

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Australia — Paramedics have helped more than 55 people suffering from heat-related illnesses since the heatwave began on Monday, and the number of calls for assistance is expected to rise as the big heat continues.

Most of those needing help were construction workers, elderly people and young women suffering dizziness, heat exhaustion and severe dehydration, a NSW Ambulance spokesman told AAP on Wednesday.

There were 72 bushfires across NSW on Tuesday alone, and more than a dozen new ones on Wednesday.

Homes were threatened and three unoccupied buildings destroyed by a 666-hectare bushfire raging near Manilla, north of Tamworth.

A spokesman for the Rural Fire Service (RFS) said crews successfully defended the homes and brought the blaze under control.

nother fire was contained in Lane Cove National Park, in Sydney’s north.

“Yesterday (Tuesday) was certainly a peak day for us, but we expect to be busy right through the coming days,” an RFS spokesman told

he RSPCA said it had received more than 50 calls from people concerned over heat-struck animals, mostly dogs tied up in the sun.

“The weather is a massive, massive concern at the moment,” a spokeswoman told AAP.

“The large majority of calls we’ve had are to do with dogs chained in the backyard without shade.

“Owners are worried that if they don’t chain them up they’ll jump over the fence, but they must give them shade and plenty of water.”

Although Wednesday was slightly cooler than Tuesday, temperatures in Sydney’s western suburbs still nudged into the forties.

Penrith had recorded a peak of 41.1 degrees by 3pm (AEDT).

Elsewhere, temperatures peaked in the high thirties.

Williamtown, just north of Newcastle, which recorded 42.5 degrees on Tuesday was relatively cool at 32 degrees.

Overnight, temperatures stayed in the mid-20s in many regions.

Meanwhile, NSW upper house MP David Shoebridge called on the state government to develop better early warning systems for hospitals, councils and government departments to deal with heatwaves.

“The reality is that heatwaves are under-rated as a weather hazard,” Mr Shoebridge said in a statement.

“They are a major natural hazard in terms of lives lost.

“Without better planning, health-related illnesses and deaths are set to rise.”

NSW Health continued on Wednesday to urge people to stay hydrated and to avoid prolonged periods in the sun.

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally asked people to be careful.

“It’s going to be … an extraordinarily hot day, and we encourage people to be mindful of their own personal wellbeing,” she told reporters.

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