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'Getting too hot is a serious risk' - New guidelines address health impact of climate change

New Zealand needs to plan for increasingly hotter weather, with the threat of climate change likely to impact Kiwis' health, says Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter. 

"Although it is great to enjoy the outdoors, getting too hot is a serious risk that will happen more in our future," she said. "Our health will be impacted by climate change, and we need to ensure we are all ready."

According to NIWA, a warm 2018 saw last January become New Zealand's hottest month on record, with the year as a whole also rising up to be one of the warmest since recording began.

Read: Scorching 2018 was one of New Zealand's hottest years on record, NIWA says

"We need to plan for anticipated weather like hotter days now," Ms Genter said. 

The Ministry of Health's new Heat Health Plan Guidelines has been launched, aiming to assist with service providers and councils to prepare plans and prediction of weather variations. 

Aspects of guideline considerations include responses to vulnerable people in heatwaves, staff wellbeing in extreme heat, keeping buildings cool and shaded and long-term approaches such as developing green spaces and reducing carbon emissions. 

"Extreme heat can cause problems for everyone, but it can be especially concerning for babies and infants, pregnant women, older people, those with pre-existing medical conditions, and those with disabilities," Ms Genter said. 

"Every year we have older New Zealanders who die due to heat issues and this is projected to increase. I want us to all be aware of the impact the heat can have on vulnerable people, so be careful when taking Grandma to the beach."