ARARAT - The Ararat region has sweltered through one of the most severe heatwaves in recent years, with temperatures officially topping 40 C on Tuesday, Wednesday and yesterday and another hot day today before a predicted cooler weekend.
The Ararat RSL temperature gauge registered 41 C on Monday at 3pm, 45 C on Tuesday (although at one stage it registered a mind boggling but incorrect 55 C), 44 C on Wednesday and 43 C degrees yesterday, however, official Bureau of Meteorology temperatures were recorded as 39 C on Monday, 43.1 C on Tuesday and 41 C on Wednesday.
Ararat Rural City Council is encouraging its residents to take care in the heat.
The Bureau of Meteorology is suggesting that this is possibly the worst extreme heat event experienced since 2009. Health authorities attributed 374 deaths to the 2009 heatwave in the week leading up to the Black Saturday Bushfires.
A heatwave is a period of unusual and uncomfortable hot weather that could impact on human health, community infrastructure such as the power supply and public transport, and services. Heatwaves are a natural hazard and can be a silent killer, that can affect anybody and can cause conditions such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke, which may be fatal.
"Muscle pains, spasms, rapid heart rate and dizziness are some of the common signs that people may be affected by heat stress," Council's manager community development and client services, Angela Hunt said.
"We really want to make sure that people are taking care of themselves and their little babies. Our staff have been contacting a number of aged and maternal and child health clients to remind them to keep up their fluids and stay in the cool this week."
Advice from the Department of Health is that those most at risk in heatwaves are people who are aged and frail, particularly those living alone without air conditioning, pregnant women, breast feeding mothers, infants and young children, people who may be overweight, obese, or suffering from chronic or mental illness, people with health conditions that impair sweating, people with limited or poor mobility, people on medication that may interfere with the body's ability to regulate temperature.
Heat may cause illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stoke. More importantly heat may worsen the condition of someone who already has a medical issue such as heart disease or diabetes.
The key messages are:
1. Keep cool (turn on your air-conditioner if you have one, utilise the coolest rooms, turn off non-essentials. Wear light loose clothes, and use a damp cloth, shower or spray water).
2. Drink plenty of water.
3. Stay out of the sun (If you have to go outside, go early or late in the day, change schedules if needed, evacuate to a cool refuge if required - this includes public spaces, other people's homes, cool community centres or hospitals).
4. Look after yourself and help others if you can (check in on your neighbours if they are in the high risk category).
5. Seek medical advice if you are feeling severe symptoms of heat stress.
People are also advised to keep an eye on their pets, ensure they have plenty of water and restrict activity during the hotter parts of the day.