40C+: Emergency services warn of CQ heatwave’s dangers
The Central Queensland sun is burning hotter than usual at this time of year, prompting emergency services to warn residents of the potential personal and collective risk throughout the several-day heatwave.
Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Rosa Hoff said the Capricornia and Central Highlands regions were suffering severe heatwave conditions, with temperatures from six to nine degrees above average for this time of year.
“The town of Rockhampton itself is likely to be 10 degrees above its average temperature for February today [Monday], but should cool down by a couple degrees tomorrow,” she said.
Rockhampton is forecast to reach 41 on Monday, 38 on Tuesday, and then stay in the low to mid 30s for the rest of the week.
Gladstone is expected to get to 38 on Monday before dropping to the low 30s on Wednesday.
In Emerald, the bureau predicts temperatures in the low 40s on Monday and Tuesday, and mid to high 30s until Sunday.
As at 2pm Monday, Rockhampton had reached 41.1C, Yeppoon had hit 35.8C, Gladstone had reached 39.9C and Emerald had climbed to 40.7C.
Rural Fire Service Central Region regional manager Brian Smith said the weather increased fire danger across the region, especially where there had been little rain.
“We’ve got some areas out around the west particularly that had scattered showers and thunderstorms come through over the last couple of months, but no significant soaking rain,” he said.
“That, combined with the increased drought and low moisture in the soil has created some conditions that today, under these conditions, if we get an ignition source, fires could develop quickly.
“What people need to do today particularly is just be cautious of what they’re doing out in the landscape, so if they are doing activities that may generate a spark – welding, grinding, slashing, those sorts of things – to limit that activity over the next couple of days. Also if they’re looking to use fire to do hazard reduction activities, they need to go through their fire warden.”
Queensland Ambulance Service operations supervisor Laurie Ryan said the main danger of a heatwave in regard to personal health was the threat of dehydration and potential hospitalisation.
“As people progress with their dehydration they’ll start to feel dizzy light-headed, perhaps nausea, vomiting,” he said.
“Some people will feel faint through to unconsciousness.
“When it comes to things like the current heatwave that we’re experiencing, our heat-related call-outs will increase dramatically.
“They’ll generally increase because people go about their normal business, without taking a few extra precautions, which is what we ask people to do with regards to just looking after themselves, looking after others.”
Mr Ryan suggested people seek shade, wear protective clothing, avoid alcohol, and drink water.