How to handle an Australian heatwave

Brace yourselves. A record-setting heatwave is expected to toast most Australian states. If you’re on the way here for a holiday, you’ll want to read our tips on how to handle an Australian heatwave. * Temps are expected to stay above 45 deg C in central Australia for at least a week and South Australia is expected to cop the blowtorch too * The state of Victoria’s capital Melbourne and SA’s capital of Adelaide sweltered in 40 deg C plus heat from Friday * Sydney will be slammed with 43 deg C heat on Tuesday, Jan 8, and the bushfire risk is rated extreme and “catastrophic”. Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) says Australia ended 2012 with record average maximum temperatures for the final four months of the year, setting up much of southeast Australia for high fire risks. The first half of 2012 was cooler and wetter than average, and the second half was warmer and drier than average, says BoM.

Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road
The Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road in the southeast state of Victoria

Last summer I kept apologizing to travellers to Sydney for the English weather – relentlessly grey and rainy. In 2012, maximum temperatures were 0.51 C above average, and minimum temperatures 0.28 C below average.  While both 2011 and 2012 were cooler than recent years, the last decade (2003-2012) has been one of Australia’s warmest on record; with an anomaly of +0.44 C, the fifth-warmest 10-year period on record.

Here’s how to cope with a heatwave if you’ve never been slammed by one before. I’ve been living in heatwave-prone countries all my adult life (Greece and Australia), so I might know a thing or two:

* Many Australians rush to the nearest beach to cool off at the water’s edge when the temps soar to 40 deg C – a practice I disagree with. You’re exposing yourself to a harmful blast of the sun, and putting yourself at risk of heat and sunstroke. Greeks know better – stay in the shade * Swim, by all means, but before the worst of the heat sets in – before late morning and from late afternoon or evening * Got air conditioning? Embrace it * Drink lots of  water and steer clear of sugary drinks and alcohol * Modify your New Year get fit regimen. Going for a run is dumb. Do some low impact exercise or even better, just go for a long swim * Eat a light diet * Go see the latest release movies in lovely aircon, shop in our malls for summer bargains, curl up with your Kindle or book in front of a fan, catch up on your fav TV programs, or be truly magnanimous with your family and play Monopoly. Or X-Box… * Don’t leave animals or children in cars while you dash into a shop to buy icecreams or drinks – the vehicle will turn into a killer furnace in minutes * If you’re planning to sleep outdoors (bliss), arm yourself with mosquito repellent, spray the vicinity of your sleeping area with bug spray, gather up midnight snacks and blow a kiss to the stars before you close your eyes.

*Images courtesy of TravMedia


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