Four people hospitalised during Gympie's pre-summer heatwave
FOUR people were taken to Gympie Hospital over a four-day period during this week's pre-summer heatwave, where intense temperatures as high as 36C were felt around the region.
A Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service statement confirmed the admissions after a "big bubble of warm air” affecting large portions of the south-east Queensland corner bore down on the Gold City and caused a mean maximum temperature of 32.2C for the first seven days of the month, two degrees over the November average of 30.2C.
"In the period from November 3 to November 6 there have been a total of four presentations to Gympie Hospital Emergency Department for heat related illnesses,” the SCHHS statement read.
Monday saw the highest maximum of the month so far when the mercury topped the 36C mark, closely followed by 34.3C on Monday and 34.1C on Tuesday.
Multiple Melbourne Cup day racegoers received paramedic treatment after coming off worse for wear in the heat at the Gympie Turf Club.
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Adam Blazak said the "bubble” was "squishing air underneath and down to the surface” and the heat was being dragged from the northern reaches of the country thanks to a north-easterly wind.
Fellow forecaster Lachlan Stoney said the heatwave had been created by an inland trough across south-east to south-west Queensland, which "sucks in warm, moist air from the north and north-east”.
"The added humidity makes it feel a lot more uncomfortable, because the body's not able to evaporate and cool itself properly in those conditions,” Mr Stoney said.
Another SCHHS statement encouraged the community to "take extra precautions to avoid dehydration or overheating” when high temperatures were expected.
Public health physician Dr Andrew Langley said dehydration or overheating during extremely hot weather could lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
"Some people are at higher risk of harm, including those with a chronic health condition, people who take certain medications such as antihistamines and beta-blockers, very young children, pregnant women, and older people. It is important though for everyone to plan ahead to stay healthy in hot weather,” Dr Langley said.
"To prepare for a heat wave, ensure you have enough food, water, medicines and toiletries to avoid going out in the heat; store your foods and medicines at a safe temperature; and check your fans and air-conditioning are working well.
"During the hot temperatures, keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water ... avoid drinks high in sugar ... caffeine and alcohol and avoid strenuous outdoor activities. If you don't have air-conditioning or adequate fans, consider finding a cool place to go.”
Queensland Ambulance Service Director of Clinical Quality and Patient Safety Tony Hucker said people must "respect” heatwave conditions to avoid being struck down.
"Heat-related illness can be very dangerous if we don't pay attention to the risks,” Mr Hucker said.
"On hot days ... you can actually get quite sick very quickly if you don't give the heat the respect it deserves.
"You can get sick really quickly, particularly if you're working hard, if you're outside in the sun and you're not keeping your fluids up.
"Heat stress or heat exhaustion is easily treatable with rest and cooling a person off and getting their fluids up, but heat stroke is very dangerous ... fundamentally your organs can start breaking down and you can die, so it's so important not to allow people get to that level.”
Gympie forecasts have dropped into the high twenties for the next week after a cool change moved in from the south and south-east.