Current heatwave might not be the last

2014-01-17 14:31
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Johannesburg - It was difficult to predict whether this weekend’s heatwave would be the last of summer, the SA Weather Service said on Friday.

Forecaster Edwin Thema warned of sweltering conditions in parts of the country until after the weekend.

"This is because of the current situation, an upper high pressure system, where we are having air sinking and less rain around," Thema said.

This meant four or five days of persistent heat without significant rain.

Thema said this was a normal summer weather pattern, and was likely to be followed by thundershowers in the summer rainfall regions.

Upington to roast

On Friday the SA Weather Service issued special advisories of hot conditions over parts of the Northern Cape, the Western Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, North West, and the Free State.

Pretoria was expected to reach a maximum of 36°C, Lephalale and Mokopane would peak at 35°C, Beaufort West would swelter at 36°C, while Upington was expected to roast at 39°C on Friday.

Johannesburg emergency management services spokesperson Synock Matobako advised the public to take precautions against heat stroke and sunburn.

"Drink lots of water... and stay out of the sun between 10:00 and 16:00," he said.

Parents should dress their children in light clothing and make sure they were well protected against sunburn by using sunscreen with a high sun protection factor.

"When it's hot the little ones normally run into the pool and stay for long periods [but] exposure to the sun is dangerous, and can cause skin cancer," he said.

Babies often cried when they felt discomfort from the heat, and parents could help by placing them in a cool, but not ice cold, bath. No one should ever be left in a car, even for short periods, especially in such heat.

"You shouldn't even have to think about it. Don't even go there, it is very dangerous," Matobako said.

Don’t leave pets in cars

National Council of SPCAs spokesperson Christine Kuch said this applied equally to animals. She condemned what she termed "Paris Hilton syndrome", where people took their pets everywhere, oblivious to the discomfort this caused the animal.

"If anybody sees an animal in a vehicle, immediately report it to security. Time is of the essence," she said.

Pets in cages should never be left where direct sunlight could reach them, and their owners needed to bear in mind that shade patterns changed throughout the day.

In addition to shade, pets needed plenty of water during a heatwave.

People owning pets with thick fur should seek advice from their vets on special precautions they needed to take to ensure their pets were comfortable.

"The most important message is to monitor your pets and, if there is any sort of problem, act quickly," Kuch said.

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Read more on:    sa weather service  |  spca  |  weather

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