Heat wave set to strike, caution urged

Following a day of catastrophic fire danger and a total fire ban across all of NSW, temperatures are set to climb into the 40s late this week.

As the worst fire conditions in a decade hit yesterday, everyone was on alert. Fire fighters, paramedics, and police numbers were increased, with as many service personnel as possible put on standby. People at risk were relocated to safer places and resources from interstate were on alert, ready to assist.

Local residents were also on alert and anxious, ready to brave any eventuality that may have come. But the danger is not yet over; residents are urged to remain cautious as temperatures soar towards the end of this week.

Quirindi and Werris Creek are set to swelter through 41 degrees today, 37 tomorrow, 41 on Friday, and 42 on Saturday before a cool change on Sunday. South of the range, Murrurundi won’t feel the heat quite as badly with temperatures predicted in the high 30s this week, with cooler weather on Thursday, 32 degrees, then dropping back to 31 on Sunday.

Health authorities are urging people to take the risk of heat-related illness seriously and keep a close watch on elderly friends and relatives as the heat wave continues.

“While heat-related illness may affect anyone, certain groups are particularly vulnerable,” said Hunter New England Health public health doctor Kate Hardie.

“These include the elderly, infants and children, people with a chronic medical condition and people who live alone,” she said.

”Australians are accustomed to hot weather and generally consider themselves resilient to such conditions, but every year, hot weather and heat waves cause illness, hospitalisations and sometimes even deaths.

“During a heat wave, it is very important to stay in regular contact with your elderly friends, neighbours and relatives, and to look out for other vulnerable members of your community.”

Some simple precautions will help people minimise their risk of health-related illness:

  • Drink plenty of water and remember to carry some with you when you’re out and about;
  • Avoid alcoholic, hot or sugary drinks;
  • Plan your day around the heat. Stay indoors between 11.00am and 5.00pm and minimise physical activity;
  • Keep the sun out of your house by shading windows with an awning, shade-cloth or plants. Shutting curtains will also help;
  • Keep windows closed during the day. Open them when it cools down at night or in the early morning;
  • If you have an air-conditioner, make sure it’s working;
  • If you don’t have an air-conditioner, try to spend some time in an air-conditioned place like a shopping centre, library or cinema; and
  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothing made from natural fibres like cotton.

“Signs of heat-related illness include confusion, dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, weakness, headaches and loss of sweating,” Dr Hardie said.

“People showing any of these signs should seek urgent medical attention through their GP or local emergency department.”

The searing temperatures come on the back of a run of hot days, with Quirindi recording two days of 38 degrees and an additional two days of 37 degrees last week.

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