Heat wave: schools and homes for the aged on high alert

2010-02-10 00:00

HUMIDITY will make Pieterma­ritzburg’s expected temperature of 38°C feel like 43°C today.

The South African Weather Service has promised “extremely uncomfortable, humid conditions” and clear skies for most of the day.

Schools and homes for the aged are on alert for heatstroke, with Netcare911 spokesman Jeffrey Wicks saying the elderly and young are especially at risk.

At least one elderly person collapsed yesterday at Emma Barter House, an old age home in Retief Street. Matron Maureen Rosettenstein said it has been difficult to keep the inmates cool and hydrated.

“One lady collapsed this morning of sheer heat exhaustion,” she said.

“Fortunately, her granddaughter was around and we were able to cool her down.”

Schools are also watching the weather.

Boys at St Charles College are not permitted to play sport when it is too hot.

“What we usually do when it’s too hot is take the boys inside and do theory on sport until it’s safe to go outside,” said the college’s Dean Riley.

The Durban Weather Office’s Mcabango Diyela said being outside in extreme heat is unwise. “We recommend that when the temperature reaches 30°C, outside activities be stopped.”

Children at Epworth Primary are being monitored.

“Our teachers, sports coaches and nursing sister are all keeping a close eye on our pupils,” said principal John Mathfield. “We are also monitoring our sports programmes …”

A paediatrician at Midlands Medical Centre said that with such high temperatures, children should stay in the shade.


“Children in the sun run the risk of heat stroke and dehydration from excess sweating,” he said.

He said hats, sun block and drinking enough water are essential.

Sport may be off, but pools are busy.

Thula Ntuli, a lifeguard at the Alexandra swimming pool, said 2 300 people swam there on Saturday and Sunday. “If it’s hot like this we are so busy,” he said.

Ntuli said that for every 350 bathers there is one bodyguard. “When we start our shift, we just pray that everything goes well,” he said.

Air-conditioner sales have taken off . Blomeyer’s Appliances’ Calvin Cook said, “Since Friday we have been nice and busy.” Hirsch’s Sue Darson said their sales team “has been busy all day”.

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