Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Today, Australians prepare for what could be the hottest day in history




As we brace ourselves this morning for another record-breaking day here in Sydney, the severe bushfire threat plaguing parts of NSW, Victoria and Tasmania is only set to worsen. Today, Australians prepare for what could be the hottest day in history, with the average national temperature predicted to hit 43C. The country's record national average temperature is 40.17C, which was reached on December 21, 1972.  According to Bureau of Meteorology climatologist Dr David Jones on the news this morning said “Australians should prepare for more prolonged heatwaves this summer”. How prepared are we when we are going to experience the wrath of mother-nature in some of the worst bushfires we have ever seen. Well, not everyone fully understands the difficulties produced by heat waves especially to our new migrants or visitors from Singapore, who are fit, healthy, and have access to air-conditioned place; a heat wave can pass by fairly uneventfully. However, there is a risk for everyone and it's important to be aware both for yourself and for others whom you might be taking care of.
Looking after others
·         Look out for signs of heat stress and exhaustion in all members of your family and others close to you. Be vigilant and explain to them the importance of taking steps to minimize the effects of heat during a heat wave.
·         Never leave children or pets in parked cars, even for brief periods of time. The temperature inside the vehicle can rise to 49ºC or more within minutes, enough heat to kill someone very quickly.
·         Check on neighbours, family, and friends, especially those who are elderly, sick, or not able to take care of themselves without assistance and those who live alone. If you know that a neighbour lives alone and is at risk of health problems from heat (especially where they do not have air conditioning), try to contact family members to come and help. If that is not possible, your local emergency services might be able to help but if you can ease the burden on them by taking care of such a person yourself, that is the better option.
·         Understand what heat related illnesses are and how to identify the symptoms, such as heat cramps, which are painful spasms in the muscles of the arms, legs, and abdomen.
Heatstroke is an emergency. Anyone exhibiting the signs and symptoms of heat stroke should seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms include:
§  Red, flushed skin - may become pale
§  A body temperature of 41ºC or higher
§  Seizures
§  Extreme headache
§  Rapid breathing
§  Rapid pulse
§  Sweating ceases
§  Confusion
§  Unconsciousness.

Looking after yourself

·         Don't undertake difficult, hot travel or movement during the daytime. If you must travel, the best time is by night, when it is much cooler.
·         Dress appropriately for outdoors: When outdoors, it is important to cover up. Still adhering to the loose-fitting, lightweight and natural clothing, cover up as much skin as possible to avoid sunburn. Protect your head and face by wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Consider wearing clothing made of synthetic sports fabrics that are designed to wick away perspiration. Avoid dark colours as these absorb the heat; light colours reflect it.
·         Look at your urine: To tell if you're dehydrated. Normal urine should be clear coloured, or light yellow. If the colour is any darker, you may be dehydrated. Make sure you have plenty of water to drink.
·         If you plan to be out and about during a heat wave, consider spending the warmest part of the day (or even night) in public buildings such as libraries, schools, cinemas, shopping malls, and other community facilities

Prepare your home for the event of a heat wave.
·         Check that your window air conditioners are snugly installed; if not, insulate around them.   Check that the air conditioning vents are also properly insulated.
·         Install temporary window reflectors (for use between windows and drapes), such as aluminium foil-covered cardboard. These will reflect heat back outside.
·         Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
·         Cover windows that receive morning and afternoon sun. Use drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. Outdoor awnings and louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 8 percent.
·         Put on a fan. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the evaporation rate of perspiration. A fan can help move the air around your house and will be useful for pulling in relatively cool air at night, but do not rely on a fan to keep cool during the day. A fan will not prevent heat-related illnesses when the temperatures are over 37ºC. A cool shower is a much more effective way to cool off.

·         Understand what heat related illnesses are and how to identify the symptoms, such as heat cramps, which are painful spasms in the muscles of the arms, legs, and abdomen.Heatstroke is an emergency. Anyone exhibiting the signs and symptoms of heat stroke should seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms include:
§  Red, flushed skin - may become pale
§  A body temperature of 41ºC or higher
§  Seizures
§  Extreme headache
§  Rapid breathing
§  Rapid pulse
§  Sweating ceases
§  Confusion
§  Unconsciousness.
  • .        Eat lightly. Hot foods and high-calorie or high-protein meals raise your body's metabolism and its        temperature, which is the opposite of what you need to stay healthy during a heat wave. Think fresh fruits and vegetables, cold salads, etc. and be sure to eat light, well-balanced and regular meals. 


The hot and dry conditions have been labelled as "catastrophic" by authorities in NSW, with a total fire ban established statewide and all national parks and reserves closed today due to the fire.
Over 100 properties have been destroyed since last week, concentrated in the fishing village of Dunalley in Tasmania. No deaths from the fires have been reported, but emergency services crews are conducting property-to-property searches for human remains and many people are still unaccounted for. Please spare a moment to our friends in Tassie who are experiencing the wrath of mother-nature in some of the worst bushfires they have ever seen. It is easy to feel helpless at times such as these but there are ways you can help. You can donate funds to the Red Cross bushfire appeal via this link: http://www.redcross.org.au/tasmanian-bushfires-appeal-2013.aspx. Funds raised through the Tasmanian Bushfires 2013 Appeal will be used to assist individuals, families 

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