MORTALITY rates may rise as a result of climate change, a public health director said yesterday.
The prevalence of heatwaves, storms, bushfires and dust storms increased with climate change and Tracey Oakman said people needed to be better prepared to prevent fatalities.
Ms Oakman, the Murrumbidgee and southern NSW Local Health District’s public health unit director, addressed about 100 people at a forum at Albury Entertainment Centre yesterday.
“Heatwaves especially can have a huge impact on health,” she said.
“If you’re on routine medication it can affect how you react to the heat.”
Ms Oakman said those on medication needed to seek advice from their doctor before the warmer months to make sure it didn’t interfere with how they coped in the heat.
She said those without air-conditioning needed to plan to take refuge at a library, shopping centre or pool.
Ms Oakman said air quality also affected people’s health and smoke from bushfires or dust storms impacted heavily on those with respiratory problems.
The Murrumbidgee and Southern NSW Local Health Districts public health unit has launched a smartphone app called PHU to alert people to changing weather conditions.
Ms Oakman said the warning system app would also provide information to prepare for the dangers of weather extremes.
“Education is important for the community from a health point of view because people become aware and can look after themselves,” she said.
The forum was organised by the Murray Darling Association and Charles Sturt University’s Institute for Land, Water and Society.
It was attended by high school students, local government councillors and academics.
Institute for Land, Water and Society director Max Finlayson said the university wanted to raise awareness about how people needed to adapt their lives to deal with climate change.