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Johannesburg - Gauteng residents should brace themselves for a sweltering few days with temperatures rising to 38ºC in the north of the province and up to 33ºC in the south.
The SA Weather Services on Thursday morning issued a heatwave alert, warning that there was no reprieve in sight until Sunday.
For weather conditions to be declared a heatwave, temperatures have to be at least 5ºC higher than the expected average for the current time of year, and they have to last for more than three days.
SA Weather Services forecaster Edwin Thema said a warning advisory had been issued for people to avoid heatstroke by staying hydrated and not engage in any heavy physical activities. He confirmed Gauteng was in the middle of the first heatwave of summer.
“We are not predicting any rain at this stage, perhaps an odd storm on Saturday, but the heatwave will probably continue into next week as well,” he said.
Emergency services are on standby in case of incidents.
ER24’s spokesman Werner Vermaak advised Gauteng residents to take precautions: “Stay well-hydrated and do not wear tight, multi-layer clothing. If you experience any dizziness, vomiting, muscle cramps or headaches, call for assistance or medical advice.
“Do not consume excessive amounts of alcohol as this can cause dehydration. People should also avoid the direct midday sun.”
Scorching conditions are also being experienced in Melbourne, where the Australian Open is under way.
Player Maria Sharapova demanded more clarity from organisers on their heat policy on Thursday after a brutal three-hour marathon in extreme heat during which the third seed battled through a third set lasting nearly two hours to beat Karin Knapp 6-3, 4-6, 10-8 in temperatures above 40ºC.
The conditions were so tough that organisers suspended play midway through the third set. However, under tournament rules, Sharapova and Knapp had to finish the set before coming off.
France’s Alize Cornet was also left wondering about the heat policy, noting that conditions were similar on Tuesday when temperatures peaked at 42.2ºC.
“On Tuesday I wonder why they didn’t stop play. It was like an oven,” she said. “The wind was scorching, and some people fainted. They (the organisers) shouldn’t go to such an extreme. Why today and not on Tuesday? The conditions are similar?”
The Australian Open has an extreme heat policy, introduced in 1998, which relies on the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature – a complex calculation factoring in air temperature, humidity, wind and sunlight.
* Do not leave your children or pets alone in closed vehicles or confined areas.
* Ensure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty.
* Try to eat smaller meals and eat more often.
* Postpone outdoor activities.
* If you work outdoors, move out of the sun and into the shade more often than usual and stay hydrated.
* Do not take part in strenuous outdoor activities without another person present.
* Keep an eye out for the elderly who live alone or are not able to move around freely.
warning signs: Dizziness
How to help?
* Remove the person from the area and call for assistance.
* Try and cool the person down gradually with a wet cloth.
* Remove any tight clothing.
* If the person is unconscious, turn them on their side.
* If they have no altered levels of consciousness, give them small amounts of water to drink.
* Call for assistance. - ER24 084 124