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Thursday, December 17

Checking on vulnerable people in South Australia as temperatures soar

As South Australians swelter through extreme heat, Red Cross volunteers have begun calling up to 1,000 vulnerable people to check on their wellbeing and safety.

‘Through the Telecross REDi service, Red Cross volunteers call pre-registered clients to check on their wellbeing. Callers ask people how they’re coping and remind them of things they can do assist themselves through the extreme heat event,’ says Australian Red Cross Executive Director South Australia Helen Connolly. ‘Volunteers will call people throughout the day during the heatwave. If a call goes unanswered or if someone is in distress, an emergency procedure is activated to make sure they are safe.’

Red Cross volunteers phone clients on days when an extreme heat warning has been declared by the South Australian Government. The service first started in early 2009 when a heatwave in South Australia claimed many lives and hospitalised many more. Since then, Telecross REDi has provided assurance for clients, their families and carers, who know their loved ones will be contacted regularly during extreme heat events.

‘Extreme heat can be dangerous for anyone, but especially the elderly or people with pre-existing medical conditions,’ says Ms Connolly. ‘What most people don’t know is that more Australians have died as a result of heatwaves than any other natural hazard including floods, bushfires and cyclones. We are urging everyone to take the risks seriously and take extra care.

‘To reduce the risks you should avoid being outside in the heat of the day, do what you can to stay cool and stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.  It is also important to think about friends, family and neighbours who might be in need of some extra assistance or care during the hot spell.’

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