Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Stay safe in hot weather, authorities urge

District authorities are reminding residents to keep cool and stay safe as temperatures are expected to remain in the low to mid 30s for the next week.

BRONWYN BEYERS January 9, 2013 1:19pm

Brady Lunn, 9 and Hayden Bird, 9, of Heathcote keep cool during the heat at Heathcote Aquatic Centre. Photo submitted.

With temperatures expected to remain in the low to mid 30s for the next week, district authorities are reminding residents to keep cool and stay safe.

Much of the district is now bone dry and Heathcote Fire brigade captain Shane Nixon urged residents and holiday makers to remain alert, mindful and take care in the hot, dry conditions even when no total fire ban had been declared.

‘‘One of the biggest mistakes people make is leaving the gas bottle connected to the barbecue with the valve open,’’ Mr Nixon said.

‘‘In the hot weather, the flexible hose gets soft and expands, and will keep filling with gas until it bursts.’’

Mr Nixon said keeping safe and not causing a fire was mostly just commonsense.

‘‘If you break a glass, pick it up. Don’t leave it around because in the hot sun it can cause a fire,’’ he said.

Outdoor activities such as lawn-mowing and motorcycle riding can also be a major cause of grassfires.

‘‘We’ve already had two fires this year in the region, one up past Axedale and another near Nagambie that were started by kids driving paddock bombs around,’’ Mr Nixon said.

‘‘What people don’t think of is the hot exhaust, which can cause long grass in a paddock to catch fire, or the grass builds up underneath the car, catches alight then drops off and starts a fire.

‘‘The kids can still be driving around in the paddock and not even realise a fire has started behind them.’’

Mr Nixon said his son had a pee wee bike with a spark arrester installed, but did not let him ride it over the fire season.

‘‘It’s just too dangerous and I’m not prepared to take the risk,’’ he said.

District health authorities and municipal councils have also been warning residents and holiday makers to guard against heat-related illnesses, and to keep an eye on elderly relatives and neighbours.

Last week, Campaspe Shire mayor Ian Maddison encouraged family members, friends, carers and neighbours to check on anyone in the community who might be at risk during hot weather.

‘‘We experience this heat almost annually, and most people cope well, but it’s important to be mindful,’’ Cr Maddison said.

‘‘People over 65 years, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, babies and young children, those with a disability or who have a medical condition such as diabetes or kidney disease are some in our community considered most at risk and may need help.

‘‘People taking medications that may affect the way the body reacts to heat are also considered at risk.’’

The effects of heat-related illnesses can range from conditions such as cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be life-threatening.

It can also worsen the condition of someone who already has a medical issue, such as heart disease or diabetes.

Cr Maddison said the best way to beat the heat was to plan ahead and follow the practical advice issued by the Victorian Government Department of Health.

Keep hydrated by drinking 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.

Block out the sun at home during the day by closing curtains and blinds. Open the windows when there is a cool breeze.

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.

Provide shade and access to plenty of water for pets and animals.

In preparing for hot weather, check that your fan or air-conditioner works well, stock up on food, water and medicines so you do not need to go outside in the heat, store medicines at the recommended temperature and prepare for a possible power failure by having a fully charged mobile phone, a battery-operated radio and sufficient batteries.

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