Experts' Sunstroke Alert Ahead of Hottest Events

Experts' Sunstroke Alert Ahead of Hottest Events

09 February 2015

More South Australian are being admitted to hospital for sunstroke than ever before, prompting warnings from health experts as the mercury level soars.

Latest SA Health figures reveal a sharp increase in the number of people treated in hospital for sunstroke, up from 25 in 2013 to 57 last year. The number of people admitted for sunburn is slightly down from 38 in 2013, to 30 last year.

As temperatures are set to soar into the high 30Cs and 40Cs across the state this week, health experts have expressed their concerns that people were still not heeding the sun-smart message.

St John Ambulance event health services manager Melissa Oudshoorn said volunteers were increasingly treating more people for sunstroke at events like Clipsal 500 and music festivals.

Clipsal 500 and music festivals, including Soundwave and Future Music, are to be held over the next month.

"Dehydration is the most common health-related presentation (at Clipsal 500)," Ms Oudshoorn said.

"The main issue is that people don't drink enough water, especially at music festivals and concerts when there's alcohol for sale.

"People will start drinking from early on in the day and not realise the effect of being in the sun and being under the influence of alcohol is dehydrating . . . so they become quite sick quite quickly." Ms Oudshoorn said volunteers treated patients by using cold compresses on their forehead, which helps cool the body down slowly.

"Drink cold sips of water, put cold flannels on the forehead and back of the neck," she said. "If it's extreme to the point they (the patient) are completely dehydrated and vomiting, then we can pop in a drip." Health Minister Jack Snelling believed the big rise in sunstroke admissions could be as a result of last year's heatwave in January and February.

"This reinforces the message that people need to be sunsmart or face potentially serious consequences," he said.

Cancer Council SA chief executive Professor Brenda Wilson said she was pleased sunburn admissions were decreasing but warned even mild sunburn increased the risk of developing skin cancer.

Prof Wilson said statistics showed two-in-three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime.



  - Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day between 11am and 4pm.
  - Take advantage of fans and airconditioners.
  - Keep blinds and curtains drawn.
  - Stay well-hydrated and drink plenty of water. 
  - To help protect skin from harsh UV rays, always wear sunscreen
  - Cover up with a hat and long-sleeved shirt and protect your eyes with sunglasses.


Adelaide Advertiser, Adelaide by Katrina Stokes

Caption Text:
SUNSCREEN SAVVY: Kaitlynn Bradbrook and her sister Vanessa being sun-smart in colourful fashion at Somerton Beach.Picture: MARK BRAKE