Older, isolated and vulnerable South Australians urged to stay safe in heat

Older South Australians and people with chronic health problems are encouraged to stay out of the extreme heat today and tomorrow.

The State Emergency Service has issued an Extreme Heat Warning for South Australia and advises that forecast hot weather conditions may pose a risk to public safety.

Communities and Social Inclusion Minister Zoe Bettison urged people to reconsider their commitments and avoid unnecessary travel.

“I really urge older people and those with a chronic illness to consider delaying their trip to the shops and remain at home or somewhere else where it’s cool,” Ms Bettison said.

“This includes people who live alone, have a disability, are experiencing mental illness, are housebound, frail, aged, recovering from an illness or accident, or have an ongoing illness, such as diabetes or a heart condition.

“If people are feeling unwell, please contact your local GP or call healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222. For immediate medical attention, telephone 000.”

Ms Bettison said where practicable, public servants have been instructed allow people to take refuge from the heat in government building foyers and other facilities.

“Government staff have also been informed to keep an eye out for any heat-affected and vulnerable members of the community to offer them a seat, a cool drink, or help to obtain medical attention if needed.”

The Department for Communities and Social Inclusion and the Red Cross have activated the Telecross REDi service which provides support to isolated and vulnerable South Australians during extreme heat events.

Telecross REDi was established in response to the January and February 2009 heatwaves that claimed many lives and hospitalised many more.

People registered with the service receive calls from trained volunteers to check their wellbeing during extreme heat events.

While people ideally register prior to these extreme heat events, they can register by phoning 1800 188 071 or by emailing telecrossredi@redcross.org.au

“The callers check how people are coping and remind them of the measures they can take to assist them through the extreme weather,” Ms Bettison said.

“If a call goes unanswered, or if someone is in distress, an emergency procedure is activated to ensure their safety and wellbeing.”

State parliamentarians have also been urged to have their office phone older constituents living alone to check on their welfare.

For more information on extreme heat visit www.ses.sa.gov.au or www.sahealth.sa.gov.au

SA Health also has the Stay Healthy in The Heat page. This page provides several publications for consumers and factsheets are also available in community languages. Please take the time to read about the measures you can take for yourself or to support your service users.