Parts of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales are in for a scorcher, with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) predicting severe-to-extreme heatwave conditions from Friday
With temperatures expected to crack 40 degrees Celsius in some spots, we check with the BOM and other relevant authorities to find out exactly you need to know ahead of the heat.
How do you define a heatwave?
It is not just one day of hot weather.
It takes three or more days of high maximum and minimum temperatures that are unusual for the location for BOM to declare a heatwave.
It is calculated using the forecast high and low temperatures over the next three days, comparing this to actual temperatures over the previous 30 days, and then comparing these same three days to the normal temperatures expected for a particular location.
Heatwaves end when the mercury falls to more normal levels.
How can BOM track heatwaves?
BOM launched its heatwave service
The service was aimed at giving communities, government, public health, emergency services and industry enough warning to plan ahead and prepare for the heat.
How deadly can heatwaves be?
According to BOM, in the past 200 years, severe and extreme heatwaves have taken more lives than any other natural hazard in Australia.
For example, 173 people died in the 2009 Victorian bushfires, but 374 people lost their lives in the heatwave that preceded it, according to BOM.
Queensland Health says it is important that your body temperature stays between 36.1C and 37.8C — anything above this may cause heat-related illness.
Who is at risk during a heatwave?
Pretty much everyone, according to Queensland Health
- The elderly — especially those who live alone
- Babies and very young children — as they produce more body heat, sweat less and their body temperature can rise more rapidly
- Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers
- People who suffer from a pre-existing medical condition such as diabetes, kidney disease or mental illness
- People who take certain medications — such as allergy medicines (antihistamines), blood pressure and heart medications (beta-blockers), fluid tablets (diuretics) and anti- depressant or anti-psychotic medications. If you take medication, consult with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
- People with an alcohol or other drug problem
- People with mobility problems or disability who may not be able to identify or communicate their discomfort or thirst
- People who are physically active — such as manual workers and people who play sport
Remember, the best way to reduce the risk of heat-related illness is to drink plenty of water and keep your body as cool as possible.
What is heatwave intensity?
There are three levels, beginning with lowntensity
It is the most common event and the majority of people are able to cope with this level of heat.