Heat wave will continue roasting SA over weekend

2014-01-17 13:08

Sweltering conditions will persist over much of South Africa until after the weekend, an SA Weather Service forecaster has said.

Forecaster Edwin Thema said there would be scorching temperatures with little chance of rain until Sunday or Monday.

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

This meant four or five days, which began on Thursday, which would see the mercury rising without significant rain to offset the heat.

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

Today, 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 degrees Celsius, Lephalale and Mokopane would peak at 35 degrees and Beaufort West at 36 degrees, while residents of Upington was expected to roast at 39 degrees today.

Thema said it was difficult to predict whether this would be the last heat wave of summer.

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 10am and 4pm,” he said.

Parents should dress their children in light clothing and make sure they are 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.

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 heat wave. 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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