Summer has officially arrived and the countdown to Christmas has begun. So Te Whatu Ora is calling for people to stay cool and look out for whānau with the intense heat predicted these holidays.
“With El Niño set to bring particularly hot, dry days, it’s important that we all think about sun protection and hydration, particularly if out with young and old whānau members enjoying the sunshine,” says Dr Sarah Clarke, National Clinical Director, Primary and Community Care, Te Whatu Ora.
“The age-old advice to slip, slop, slap and wrap should be top of mind, as well as to seek shade, keep hydrated and check first whether it’s safe to swim at your local swimming spot.”
Visit the ‘Can I Swim Here?’ section of the Land Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website for the latest information when you’re heading for the water.
Getting prescriptions or health advice
Dr Clarke says if you’re planning on heading to a popular holiday hotspot, to think about your health needs in advance.
“Pharmacies outside the main centres may not carry some medicines, or have limited stock, so it is best to be prepared and take what you need with you,” she says.
“If you or a whānau member is running low on prescription medication, please contact your local GP or healthcare provider now to book an appointment.”
Most general practices across the motu will be either closed or operating limited hours over the Christmas and New Year period.
Hospital emergency departments and many urgent care clinics will remain open – so if it’s an emergency, always call 111 or go to ED if you are seriously unwell or if it’s a life-threatening emergency.
People are also encouraged to consider packing a first aid kit, including a supply of paracetamol or ibuprofen, and some over-the-counter medications for cough and cold symptoms.
“With COVID-19 still circulating in our communities, it is also a good idea to pack some RATs, hand sanitiser and face masks in case you need them,” Dr Clarke says. “If you get sick whether you’re at home or away, call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for free medical advice 24/7 – interpreter support is available.
“If you’re not sure what to do or where you can get in-person health care, Healthline can also advise what services are open wherever you are in the country.”
You can also call your GP after hours. Your phone call will be redirected to their after-hours service. A rural after-hours telehealth service launched late last month is another option too.
People in rural areas can access the service by calling 0800 2 KA ORA (0800 252 672) or book online at kaora.co.nz directly or via referral from their rural healthcare provider. The service runs from 5pm to 8am on weekdays and 24 hours a day at weekends and on public holidays.