Staying cool and healthy in rising heat

29 January 2017

“Take care as the heat rises” advises Dr Alex Macmillan,co-convenor of OraTaiao, The NZ Climate and Health Council, “especially if you’re elderly, pregnant, or already have a medical condition. Babies and children are also more at risk with rising heat, while healthy adults who work outdoors are also especially vulnerable.”

“If there are people in your care, make sure they can keep cool enough. This includes at work, school, early childhood centres, rest homes, prisons, sporting and cultural events,” says Dr Macmillan.

“This is a good time to stay out of the heat, cool yourself down, drink plenty of cold non-alcoholic drinks and look after others, especially if they are vulnerable,” says Dr Macmillan.

Even short duration heat-waves can increase deaths and hospital admissions from heat stroke, heart and lung disease, placing a heavy burden on families, communities, and the health system.

“As we continue to see every year breaking new records for average and highest temperatures, climate change begins to take its toll in the form of more days of extreme heat. In New Zealand, this means temperatures of around 40 degrees Celsius, which our bodies are simply not used to here.”

“New Zealand urgently needs a climate change and health adaptation plan, so that we can ensure people’s health is protected from the impacts of climate change, including these higher summer temperatures.

“The good news,” says Dr Macmillan, “is that by investing in well-designed climate action, including homes that are easy to cool and warm and better city planning, we can stay healthier and more resilient to heat events like this, and reduce our climate pollution at the same time.”


Media Spokesperson:Dr Alex Macmillan, Ph. 021 322 625 [email protected]

Alex Macmillanis a public health specialist and senior lecturer in environmental health. She is the co-convenor of OraTaiao: The NZ Climate & Health Council


Royal Society of New Zealand Report: Human Health Impacts of Climate Change for New Zealandhere.

Ministry for the Environment/Statistics NZ Report:Our atmosphere and climate 2017here.

NZ-specific climate-health information:
‘Health and equity impacts of climate change in Aotearoa-New Zealand, and health gains from climate action’.

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