Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Heatwave warning for parts of the Western Cape


A heatwave alert has been issued by the SA Weather Service for the extreme north-western interior of the Western Cape. 

There is a risk of a heatwave for the next few days with daytime highs reaching over 40 Deg/C in areas. It will remain warm at night in many areas.

All indications are that this summer might be warmer than the past couple of years.

With climate change, heatwaves are likely to become more common over the next few decades and the public should take note of this.

Heatwave guidance

Consecutive hot days could be dangerous for people with heart and respiratory problems and in extreme cases, excess heat can lead to heat stroke, which can be fatal.

Ozone can be a big problem for those with breathing problems but although levels can be high during the day in a heatwave, they drop at night so staying indoors in the middle of the day can help. Keeping the home as cool as possible during hot weather and remembering the needs of friends, relatives and neighbours who could be at risk is essential.

The elderly and those who are ill, are particularly vulnerable during hot weather and the most oppressive conditions occur in our towns and cities.Windows should be kept shaded and closed when the temperature is hotter outside than inside.

Heat exhaustion can cause muscle cramps, low blood pressure, rapid pulse and nausea. It can be treated at home, by drinking water, getting into an air-conditioned room or sitting in front of a fan and misting the body with cool water. Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol.

It is very important that older people look after themselves in the warm weather.

Older people, especially those on medication, can often find coping with the heat particularly difficult.

To avoid the effects of the heat wave it is very important to avoid any unnecessary exposure to the sun during the hottest periods of the day, between 11am and 4pm.

Precautions to take when there is a summer weather heat wave:

Hydration - Drink a lot of water when you are going to be outside in the heat. A heat wave means that you will need to drink even more water than usual. Keeping yourself well hydrated during heat wave weather is essential to your health. Carry extra supplies of water with you in case you are gone longer than you think you will be gone.

Limit Time Outside - Don't spend long periods of time outside. Try to limit your outside time to 15 minutes or less. This will keep you from becoming too dehydrated or to be overcome with heat. Save outside work for when the weather changes to a cooler temperature. When temperatures are soaring, you need to worry about yourself and your health.

Hiking/Playing/Working Outdoors - Do not hike, play, walk or work outdoors when there is a heat wave in effect. It is very dangerous for you to do activities outside when the temperatures go far above anything a human can endure while being physically active. You are far better off to stay away from these outdoor activities so that you can avoid becoming a victim of the summer heat.

Swimming - It is alright to go swimming during summer heat wave weather. You should still use precautions to keep yourself well hydrated. Even though water surrounds your body while you are swimming, that doesn't hydrate your body. Remember to get out of the pool every now and then to take a drink of water. Swimming will at least keep your body cool but you still need to worry about sunburn.

Sun Block - Make sure that you put sun block on before going out in the summer heat. You are in more danger of burning your skin when a heat wave is declared than at other times. Follow the same precautions as you would in normal hot weather, but go an extra step by reapplying more often.

Drinking Alcohol - Do not drink alcohol outside when there is a heat wave. Alcohol has a tendency to dry things up rather than hydrate them. You will be in danger of getting drunk much faster if there is a heat wave and you run the risk of getting extremely ill even with a small intake of alcohol into your body.  I once did a inquest where a person got drunk, passed out and got fried by the sun.  He died as a result.

Car - Cars get much hotter than other places because they are closed off with no air circulation at all when someone isn't in them. Make sure that you lock your doors so that children can't climb inside to play and get stuck there. Children and pets die quickly when they are overcome by the heat in a car. Before going anywhere in your car during a heat wave period this summer, start the car several minutes ahead of time to cool the vehicle down before getting into it. Keep an extra supply of water with you during extremely hot weather hits this summer. You never know when something might happen and you may need to keep hydrated until help reaches you. Keep your car in good repair so there is less likelihood that you will break down along the road.  Need I say more....we already had several incidents where children were left in the car while parents were shopping.  Remember do not leave your pets in the car.

Keeping safe during summer heat wave weather is essential. Take the above precautions to help get your through the heat wave weather. Heat wave weather can last for several days but rarely lasts the entire summer. Until there is relief, take care of yourself and your family to ensure they stay healthy.

How hot was it in your town today? Send in your temperature and humidity recordings and time recorded to the SAWDOS  via Twitter: @SAWDOS1.

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