Heatwave conditions coming, make sure you are prepared

By Riverine Herald

WITH the mercury set to climb as high as 43C this week, locals are being urged to stay safe in the scorching heat.

Tuesday and Wednesday will be the hottest, both set to reach 43, with the lowest maximum temperature a mild 33 on Saturday. All far above January’s mean maximum temperature of 31 degrees.

And with only 0.4mm rainfall to date (a fraction of the January average of 27.8mm) local firies are on high alert.

“This season still has the potential to be in line with Victoria’s driest fire seasons. It’s not a question of if there will be bushfires this season, it’s a question of when and where,” CFA deputy chief officer Stephanie Rotarangi said.

Dr Rotarangi said on hot, windy days, such as those forecast this week, fires can start and spread quickly.

She urged Victorians to learn what the fire danger ratings mean and use them as triggers to take action to keep themselves and loved ones safe.

“Talk to your household, family or neighbours about your bushfire survival plan and check fire danger ratings daily so you know when to leave,” she said. “The CFA website has more information and will help you use the fire danger rating to know when conditions are dangerous enough to put your bushfire survival plan in to action.”

And while these temps may still be a little way off the all-time record for the month of January – 45.6C on January 13, 2016 – there’s no doubt Echuca-Moama will be hitting the pools and stocking up on icy poles to fight off the blistering weather.

However, the sobering reality is extreme heat kills more people in Australia than any natural disaster, meaning locals are being urged to exercise caution in the coming days.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can occur when the body’s temperature rises and the internal organs start to shut down.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion range from muscle cramps and dizziness to nausea, vomiting and fainting.

This risk is higher for older people, particularly if they are on medication, as blood pressure medication, heart medication, antihistamines, diuretics (water pills), antidepressants and antipsychotics all affect the way the body reacts to heat.

Locals are also encouraged to keep an eye on people at greater risk of heat exhaustion such as neighbours who live alone, young children or people with a medical condition.

To stay safe during the heat, drink plenty of water, draw your blinds to keep the heat out, seek air-conditioned buildings and take cool showers.

If you or anyone you know feels unwell on a hot day call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24, or call 000 in an emergency.