Central West health authorities say a bit of common sense will ensure a safe and happy Christmas and New Year period for everyone.
Central West Hospital and Health Service Executive Director of Medical Services Dr David Rimmer says risk-taking behaviour seemed to explode over the Christmas – New Year period.
“However, last year during the Christmas period between 24 December 2017 and 1 January 2018, we saw a reduction in emergency department presentations to our hospitals, with 224 presentations compared with 306 for the same period the year before.”
“We’ve been promoting the take care and use some common-sense message over the past few years, so perhaps it’s starting to take hold. But the safety message is always worth reinforcing as the Christmas and New Year periods traditionally can be very busy times in any emergency department.”
“We don’t want to be killjoys; we just want people to avoid hurting themselves.”
Dr Rimmer says with the warmer weather being experienced, pool use was increasing and bringing with it its own problems and risks.
“I would urge everyone with a pool at home to make sure their pools are properly fenced and that they learn the principles of basic life support.”
“But most important of all, if there are young children involved, never leave them unsupervised in or around the pool, or any body of water for that matter. Keep an eye on them at all times.”
“It can happen so quickly. Kids are masters at slipping away when you aren’t looking and pools, creeks, ponds and the like are like magnets to them.”
Dr Rimmer says parents of younger children also should be especially vigilant with button batteries, not just during the festive season but at all times.
“The ingestion of small, coin-sized button batteries is a recognised danger for young children and, if left undiagnosed, can cause severe internal injury or even death.’’
“Younger children are at risk of swallowing while teenagers also can be at risk due to the appeal of receiving a tingle on the tongue when a lithium battery is placed there – and then being too embarrassed to tell anyone. The best advice is to avoid entirely any toys containing button batteries, especially for younger children.’’
Dr Rimmer wants Central West residents to also plan ahead to ensure they have sufficient repeat medication prescriptions to last them through the Christmas–New Year period.
Dr Rimmer adds that the warm weather during Christmas and New Year requires extra safety precautions when handling food.
“There’s always a lot of food around at Christmas. But people should remember that food spoils quickly and bacteria multiply very rapidly in the heat. So, don’t leave food lying around for long. If food has been left out for a period, you should think about throwing it out rather than putting it away to eat later.
“As a general rule, food should be kept chilled below 4 degrees Centigrade, or heated above 50 degrees. Food kept above 4 degrees or below 50 degrees for any period runs the very real risk of spoiling. So, don’t take the risk-Throw it out.”
“Also, think about your neighbours, and the vulnerable people in your community especially on hot days.”
“Be aware of any heatwave alerts issued by the Bureau of Meteorology or Queensland Health and always follow the recommendations for fluid intake in hot weather.”
“And remember, never leave children – or animals – unattended in cars in the heat. Temperatures can rise very rapidly and can be fatal in a surprisingly short period of time.”
“Drink plenty of fluids and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink – drink regularly throughout the day.”
“Urine colour is a good guide to hydration – it should be clear to light straw-colour, not dark or gold.’’