Health & wellbeing, Weather  |  30 Jan 2020

Get your fans, cold drinks and sunblock at the ready – the first few days of February look set to be scorchers.

Extreme fire risk

A total fire ban is in place across North Canterbury.

If you see smoke or a fire call 111 immediately.

The MetService is predicting temperatures in Christchurch could reach as high as 35 degrees on Sunday.  The start of next week is also expected to bring temperatures in the high 20s and early 30s. 

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Pink says these higher temperatures can be harmful to our health and we must take care not to overheat.

He advises people keep their houses cool:

  • By closing curtains on windows getting direct sun.
  • Opening windows to get a breeze if it’s cooler out than in.
  • Using the cool cycle on heat pumps.

Dr Pink says if it is not possible to keep your home cool, you should look to spend a few hours of the day in a cool place such as an air-conditioned public building, marae or church, all of which tend to be cool in summer.

“It's especially important to stay out of the sun where possible, avoid extreme physical exertion and ensure pets and people are not left alone in stationary cars.

“While we are all vulnerable to hot temperatures, some people are particularly at risk. This includes the elderly, infants and children, women who are pregnant, people suffering from chronic, acute and severe illness,” says Dr Pink.

Avoid overheating

People whose work involves strenuous physical activity outdoors should be particularly vigilant to avoid overheating in hot weather.

“It’s important people exposed to hot weather for long periods of time carry water with them and sip at least half a litre an hour, allow for more breaks in the shade, reapply sunscreen every two hours and schedule the hardest work in the coolest part of the day,’’ Dr Pink says.

If you feel dizzy, weak or have an intense thirst or headache you may be dehydrated. Drink some water and rest in a cool place. If your symptoms persist or you’re concerned about your health, or someone else's, seek medical advice.

You can call your general practice team 24/7 for care around the clock – after hours a nurse can provide free health advice, and tell you what to do and where to go if you need to be seen urgently.

Take care of your pets

It is important too that you make sure your animals have plenty of clean, fresh cool water to drink and shade from the hot summer sun.

Christchurch City Council Animal Management Team Leader Mark Vincent says if you are planning on taking your dog for a walk this weekend, avoid the middle of the day when temperatures are likely to be at their hottest.

“Try and avoid hot surfaces too such as roads, footpaths and sandy beach as they could cause burns. If a surface is hot to your touch, imagine how a dog’s paws are affected,’’ he says.

“Watch out for excessive panting – it’s an indication your pet may be in trouble.’’