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Hunter community urged to ‘beat the heat’ safely

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With the Hunter set to swelter over the next two days, residents are being urged to heed health and safety advice.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has predicted significantly warmer conditions in NSW, with some areas expected to exceed 40 degrees.

Singleton is likely to reach successive high temperatures of 39 and 38 on Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 March, while Maitland, Tocal and Dungog will experience 38s throughout a 48-hour period.

Cessnock (38, 37) and Lake Macquarie (37, 36) are anticipated to feel the heat, too.

The “coolest” LGAs appear to be Newcastle (34, 34) and Port Stephens (31, 29).

State Emergency Operations Controller Deputy Commissioner emergency management Peter Thurtell advised the community to make safety the priority and not take unnecessary risks.

“During extremely hot weather, we often see an increase in tragic incidents including drownings, falls from windows or balconies, and kids, pets or vulnerable people suffering distress or injury from being left in a hot car,” he explained.

“I cannot stress strongly enough how dangerous it can be to leave a child or pet unattended in a vehicle.

“And, on a hot day, it only takes a matter of minutes to become deadly.

“Anyone who locates children, vulnerable people or pets unattended in a vehicle, phone Triple Zero (000) immediately.”

Under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act, the maximum penalty for leaving children and young persons unsupervised in a motor vehicle is to $22,000.

Hefty penalties may apply in the event of injury or death.

Deputy Commissioner Thurtell reminded those planning to stay cool in, on or around the water, to check the conditions, obey the rules and look out for each other.

“It has been a devastating summer season, with more than 20 lives already lost in NSW waterways,” he said.

“So, all emergency services and rescue organisations are again pleading for people to think before they swim.

“I especially urge tourists, campers and other holidaymakers who are in unfamiliar environments to take extra care when swimming.

“At the beach, always swim between the flags and listen to the directions and advice of surf lifesavers – please do not take a risk and swim at an unpatrolled area.”

Information about being beach safe, including locations and times for patrolled beaches is available online at https://beachsafe.org.au.

Deputy Commissioner Thurtell added it was important to look after your health in hot weather – and equally vital to think about the health of others.

“Some people are at higher risk of heat illness, especially if they are older, live alone or are socially-isolated,” he said.

“So, if you know someone who may need assistance, reach out to them.

“There is also a wide range of health information and advice on the Beat the Heat page of NSW Health’s website.”

Important Beat the Heat advice includes:

  • Stay well-hydrated
  • Avoid alcohol and hot or sugary drinks
  • Limit your physical activity
  • Try to stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day
  • If you can, spend some time in an air-conditioned building
  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothing made from natural fibres like cotton
  • Regularly check your forecasts from the Bureau of Meteorology on radio, TV, internet or App
  • Get advice from your doctor about whether your medication and/or your medical conditions may affect what you should do if it gets extremely hot
  • Make sure you know who you are going to call (who may need help, and who could provide help to you if needed); make a list of telephone numbers and make sure they are current

For more information, visit: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/beattheheat/Pages/default.aspx

Livestock and pet owners are also implored to look out for animal health by ensuring adequate clean water is always available and that shading is provided where possible.

Additionally, no animals should be left in confined, unventilated areas.

Deputy Commissioner Thurtell said the other consideration for the community in extreme heat was the risk of bushfires.

“When the weather heats up, we generally see higher fire dangers and the NSW Rural Fire Service will often declare total fire bans in areas to reduce the risk of catastrophe,” he said.

“Not only should members of the community be up to date on fire conditions, but they must also consider the risk an open flame or use of a solid fuel burner outside may pose with the fire danger of the day.

“Significant penalties apply depending on the incident, so it’s important to know your responsibilities.”

Lighting a fire on a day of Total Fire Ban attracts an on the spot fine of $2,200.

If the matter goes to court, you could be subject to a fine of up to $5,500 and/or 12 months in prison.

Penalties for a fire that escapes and damages or destroys life, property or the environment can attract much greater fines and gaol terms with maximums at $132,000 and/or 14 years in prison.

Members of the public can access bushfire preparedness advice and up-to-the-minute warnings on the NSW RFS website at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au.

More information about weather forecasts and warnings is available on the Bureau of Meteorology website at www.bom.gov.au

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