A heatwave alert has been issued for Queensland and Northern NSW by the Bureau of Meteorology. Those of our The Retiree community who are travelling, or living in the affected region are advised to take some simple steps to mitigate the effects of the heatwave. According to a Macquarie University Australia Scientist, heatwaves have killed more Australians than all other natural hazards combined.
Macquarie University risk scientist Lucinda Coates and her colleagues analysed records dating back more than 160 years and found that “since 1900, extreme heat events have been responsible for more deaths in Australia than the combined total of deaths from all other natural hazards (barring disease epidemics).” She said that “a lower bound estimate of the number of fatalities is 4,555”
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has predicted severe-to-extreme heatwave conditions for three days from Friday, with temperatures forecast to soar past 40 degrees Celsius in many towns south of the Queensland border and west of the Great Dividing Range.
The Bureau predicts a top temperature of 44 in Moree, Walgett, Brewarrina and Bourke on Saturday, and those towns are set to remains in the low 40s on Sunday and Monday.
The Bureau’s senior forecaster, Michael Knepp, told the ABC that dry air coming from western Queensland would send temperatures soaring over the weekend.
“We are looking at a possible heatwave with temperatures especially in western Brisbane suburbs remaining in the high 30s possibly getting to 40-41 for an extended period of time for five or six days,” he said.
And the extreme heat, of course, presents other dangers for grey nomads and others.
“We generally see elderly members of the community who perhaps haven’t hydrated enough or haven’t put the air-conditioning on,” said Queensland Ambulance Service senior operations supervisor, Alan Muxworthy. “People should be drinking a soft drink can amount of water every hour and if you’re out in the sun wear sunscreen, wear a long-sleeve shirt if possible, wear a hat … and stay out of the sun if you can.”
He says that those without air conditioning should get fans on, get the windows open and get some air flowing through.
The Queensland Fire and Emergency Service is also stepping up preparations for the looming heatwave.
Superintendent James Haig said they would be ready to deal with any bushfires.
Meteorologists say north-east South Australia and south-east Northern Territory may also experience similar heatwave conditions.
The Red Cross have a great tip sheet for surviving a heatwave as an older adult. We’ve listed a few key points below.
- Look at the things you can do to make your home cooler.
- Install or upgrade insulation in your roof, install awnings, shade cloth or external blinds on the sides of the house facing the sun. For further advice talk to a registered building practitioner or visit www.yourhome.gov.au.
- If you can, stay inside, in the coolest rooms in the house.
- Reduce heat from sunlight coming through the windows using external shades or light-coloured curtains. If needed, ask for help from a neighbour or family to draw the blinds.
- Use an air conditioner, evaporative cooler or fan to keep cool. Having a bowl of ice or cold water in front of the fan can also assist in cooling the air.
- Have your air conditioner serviced before summer.
- Remember, sometimes the electricity fails during heatwaves, so you’ll need an alternative way to cool your home.
- Ensure there is sufficient air circulation, either from an air conditioner or by leaving a secured window or door open.
- Take cool showers and splash yourself several times a day with cold water, particularly your face and the back of your neck. A loose, cotton, damp cloth or scarf on the back of the neck can also help you to stay cool.
- Go to an air-conditioned building in your local area to cool off – a shopping mall, community centre, library or swimming pool.
- Recognise the signs and symptoms of heat stress.
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Image: Supplied BOM