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Byron Shire
February 23, 2024

Bushfire risk and health warnings as it heats up across NSW

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A three day heatwave is expected across NSW from today. Image http://www.bom.gov.au/nsw/warnings/heatwave.shtml

High heat warnings have been predicted for much of NSW over the coming days with above average temperatures predicted for Northern Tablelands, Central West Slopes & Plains, Lower Western and Upper Western Districts. Temperatures in these areas are expected to be above average maximum temperatures, predicted to reach the high thirties to low forties.

This coincides with the first big summer heatwave that is predicted to span half of Australia before rain and potential cyclones cool the temperature over the weekend according to the ABC.

Temperatures are expected to reach 37 in Grafton and 33 in Lismore, Evans Head and Murwillumbah during the next three days. File photo

Northern Rivers

Today’s temperatures in the Northern Rivers are expected to reach between 29 degrees at Byron Bay and 37 degrees at Grafton wth Lismore, Evans Head and Murwillumbah seeing a top of 33 degrees. Ballina is expected to top 31 degrees, Tweed Heads 30 degrees, and Yamba 20 degrees. 

The seven day maximum forecast sees most of these areas remaining in the high 20 to early 30 degree temperature range with temperatures dropping to high teens overnight. That will see Lismore reaching 33 degrees on Thursday as well as Evans Head reach 33 degrees on Saturday. The highest temperatures are predicted for Grafton which will see 36, 35 and 36 temperatures over the next three days before dropping back into the low 30s.

Animals impacted

Remember as temperatures increase animals and wildlife are also impacted. Hot footpaths can burn dogs feet and animals, like children, should not be left in cars where temperatures can far exceed the outside temperature. Also make sure animals have plenty of water to access and if you have wildlife in your area you can place water in strategic locations.

Bushfire risk

As the temperatures rise everyone is reminded of the increased fire risk and the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) is urging those that live or are visiting bush fire prone areas to know the Fire Danger Rating and have a plan of action in the event a bush or grass fire threatens.

‘Be alert for fires in your area,’ said a spokesperson for the RFS. 

‘Review and discuss your bush fire survival plan and know what you will do if fire threatens.’

Stay up to date on bushfires in your area by checking Fires Near Me, Hazards Near Me app, the RFS website www.rfs.nsw.gov.au, listening to your local radio station, or by calling the RFS Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737.

Man cools off in New York City during a heatwave in 2011. Photo Guian Bolisay https://www.flickr.com/photos/instantvantage/

Health risks

Heatwaves are one of the biggest killers and are an increasing risk as global heating and climate change continues to impact both here in Australia and around the world. 

‘Heatwaves can be dangerous for everyone’s health, but some people are more vulnerable including people over 65 years old, babies and young children, people with certain medical conditions, people who work outside, pregnant women, people who live alone or are socially isolated and people who are homeless,’ said a spokesperson for NSW Health. 

There are a few simple things you can do to stay safe in a heatwave:

  • Avoid being outdoors in the hottest part of the day.
  • Keep your home cooler by using air-conditioning or electric fans and closing doors, windows, blinds, and curtains.
  • Limit your physical activity to early in the morning when it’s coolest.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water regularly. If your doctor has restricted your fluid intake, ask them about how much you should drink when it is hot.
  • When outdoors, apply sunscreen and wear sunglasses and a wide brim hat to protect your eyes, face, and scalp.
  • Seek out cool places or air-conditioned public facilities in your local area, if you can safely travel without getting too hot.

‘It is also important to recognise the signs of heat-related illness,’ said the spokesperson.

‘Heat exhaustion is a serious heat related illness and is your body’s response to a loss of water and salt in hot weather, usually through excessive sweating or excessive physical activity. Symptoms include pale skin, headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, fainting, weakness, irritability, thirst, heavy sweating, muscle cramps, decreased urine output. If you experience these symptoms and they do not improve, seek medical care. Call your doctor or healthdirect on 1800 022 222. If symptoms are worsening and you are concerned about heat stroke, immediately call triple zero (000).

‘Heat stroke is the most severe heat-related illness. In extreme heat, your body’s ability to cool itself down can fail, causing your body temperature to increase to a dangerous level. If left untreated, this can result in permanent disability or death. Heat stroke requires immediate medical emergency care. Symptoms include confusion, slurred speech, agitation and altered mental state, profuse sweating or hot, dry skin, muscle twitching or seizures, rapid breathing, a quick strong pulse or very high body temperature. Heat stroke is extremely dangerous and can quickly threaten life. If you are concerned about heat stroke, immediately call triple zero (000).’

Visit https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/beattheheat for information on how to stay safe during a heatwave.

As temperatures police remind drivers to keep tempers under control. File photo

Road rage

NSW Police are reminding road users that as temperatures increase, so it seems, do tempers. 

‘With high temperatures expected across the state; we are asking commuters to keep their cool. Traffic delays and the heat generally has the potential to frustrate drivers with slower conditions on the road; so please be patient,’ said a NSW Police spokesperson. 

‘We know many people will want to head to the beach, a local swimming hole or swim in your backyard pool. Please be careful. Keep a watchful eye over children especially when they are near the water – all children need to be supervised.

‘The best advice is if you don’t need to be out – stay at home.’

‘Above all, look after yourself and those around you. If you need assistance call triple zero (000).’


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2 COMMENTS

  1. Heat Warnings .. FFS, it’s summer and in Australia summer starts in the first week of December and runs through to the last day in February – and, it gets hot: Always has, and always will.

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