Tips for staying safe in the heat

13 January 2014

WITH temperatures soaring, Alpine Shire Council is reminding residents and visitors to take precaution against the heat.

With temperatures reaching into the 40s this week, coupled with high overnight temperatures, taking care of yourself and others in the heat is particularly important.

Alpine Shire Council Senior Environmental Health Officer Paul Bond said it was these higher than normal overnight temperatures that defined a heat wave.

“The unrelenting nature of those hot nights and extremely hot days mean there is no chance for relief,” he said.

“It’s easy for people to be dismissive of the effects of extended periods of hot weather over summer, but heatwaves can have serious implications for health.

“Certain members of the community – older people, anyone who lives in isolation, pregnant and nursing women and families with small children all need to ensure they are particularly careful to mitigate the effects of heat.”

Mr Bond said heatwaves can impact on health, public infrastructure such as power supply and other services.

“Heatwaves can cause illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke – the effects can be fatal,” he said.

“An extended period of very hot weather also places greater pressure on power supply and can cause power outages, and they tend to take place at the time of year when the risk of bushfires also increases.”

River pools in Bright and Porepunkah, and outdoor swimming pools in Myrtleford and Mount Beauty are the ideal place to cool off, but safety is extremely important.

Alpine Shire Council Manager Communities Kathryn Maxwell said that even though lifeguards are on duty throughout the day, swimmers still have a responsibility to behave safely at all times.

“We’re expecting more than a week of very high temperatures, and with many more people in our towns over the summer holidays, pools can become very crowded,” she said.

“It’s particularly important to watch children around water at all times, manage heat and sun appropriately and don’t take risks.

“Supervision means constant visual contact - never take your eyes off children in the water.

“If children are under five years old, ensure they are always within arm’s reach.

“Never swim alone and ensure there’s someone keeping an eye out for you – particularly if you’re not a strong swimmer.”

The Bright River Pool at Howitt Park is currently open from 11am – 6pm, seven days a week and the Porepunkah River pool is open from 12.30 – 5pm, seven days a week, and Bright and Mount Beauty Pools will extend their afternoon opening time to 8.30pm for the next week to cater for the extended heat.

Coping with the heat:

• Take care of yourself and keep in touch with sick or frail friends, neighbours and relatives.
• Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty (if your doctor normally limits your fluids, check how much to drink during hot weather).
• Keep yourself cool by using wet towels, putting your feet in cool water and taking cool (not cold) showers.
• Spend as much time as possible in cool or air‑conditioned buildings (for example, shopping centres, libraries, cinemas or community centres).
• Don’t leave children, adults or animals in parked vehicles.
• Stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day.
• If you must go out, stay in the shade and take plenty of water with you. Wear a hat and light-coloured, loose‑fitting clothing.
• Eat smaller meals more often and cold meals such as salads. Make sure food that needs refrigeration is properly stored.
• Avoid strenuous activity like sport, home improvements and gardening.
• Watch or listen to news reports that provide more information during a heatwave.

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