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Heat dangers

As temperatures soar across South Africa, Netcare and Netcare 911 have issued an urgent
advisory to the public, emphasizing the potential health risks of heat exposure and the need
for vigilance during widespread heatwave conditions.

“Members of the public are urged to take the necessary precautions during widespread
heatwave conditions experienced across the country to prevent medical emergencies linked
to high temperatures,” says Mande Toubkin, Netcare’s general manager of emergency,
trauma, transplant and corporate social investment.

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are among the most severe heat-related illnesses that can
occur rapidly, especially for vulnerable groups such as children, older individuals, and those
with chronic conditions like epilepsy, high blood pressure, or diabetes. Certain medications,
including diuretics, can also increase the risk of dehydration and heat stroke.

Shalen Ramduth, Netcare 911’s operations director, stresses the urgency of treating
heatstroke as a medical emergency. “Seek medical assistance as soon as possible if you
notice any symptoms, such as nausea, headache, vomiting, fatigue, muscle cramps, aches,
dizziness, dry, flushed skin without sweating, a rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, confusion,
unusual behavior, seizures, or loss of consciousness,” Ramduth advises.

Immediate cooling measures should be taken while waiting for medical assistance, such as
moving the person to a cooler area, loosening or removing excess clothing, and placing
them in a bath of lukewarm water if conscious.

Toubkin and Ramduth emphasize the grave dangers of leaving anyone, including pets, in a
parked vehicle, even for short periods. Experiments have shown that the internal
temperature of a parked car can soar to life-threatening levels within minutes.

To stay safe during the heatwave, the public is advised to avoid outdoor activities during the
hottest part of the day, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and sports rehydration
drinks, and apply sunscreen with high protection factors, especially for children. Additionally,
alcohol, caffeinated drinks, and antihistamines should be avoided when spending time in the

Netcare and Netcare 911 urge the public to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions
to prevent heat-related illnesses. For assistance in a medical emergency, contact Netcare
911 on 082 911 or use the Netcare App, which includes emergency call and geolocation