The South African Weather Service defines a heat wave as “when for three days the maximum temperature is five degrees higher than the mean maximum for the hottest month”. That means a heat wave could be declared at 33 just as easily as at 38 degrees Celsius. Most people want to know what to do to escape the effects of this uncomfortable climatic event. From the City of Cape Town website, the following advice is given:
- Drink plenty of water. Water is the best liquid for hydration during a heat wave.
- Never leave children unattended, especially outside.
- Never leave children or pets unattended in motor vehicles.
- Take care of pets and other animals – they should not be directly exposed to the sun
- Be aware of the dangers of heat exhaustion.
- Stay indoors in the coolest room of your home as much as possible, and splash your face with cold water to cool down.
- Keep rooms cool by using shade cloth or reflective material on the outside of the window.
- If it is safe to do so, open windows at night when the air is cooler.
- Cyclists are advised not to cycle as they can sustain heat-stroke and cardiac problems.
- Listen to alerts on the radio and television for up-to-date weather reports.
- Avoid hiking and walks, especially from 10:00 to 16:00. If you have to hike during this time, take along plenty of liquids, use an adequate sun-protection, wear suitable clothing and notify somebody of your intended travel plans.
Tourists visiting Cape Town who are not acclimatised to the heat are asked to take extra precautions to avoid swelling of the ankles, inflammation of the skin, sharp pains due to loss of water, dizziness, nausea, diarrhoea and fainting.
When heat wave conditions occur authorities, places of safety and care-givers should be on high alert, especially regarding the wellbeing of children and the elderly.
Concerning that the heat wave has struck just a few days after the City of Cape Town has initiated Level 2 Water Restrictions. The outlook for the next few days looks pretty much the same, but there is relief up ahead. Selene Brophy for News24.com posted this comment this morning:
The Western Cape has been gripped by temperatures tipping the scale at the late 30s °C and early 40s°C, with the SA Weather Service advising that the extremely hot conditions could be expected in the Northern Cape, Cape Winelands and Little Karoo of the Western Cape until Tuesday. Cooler temperatures can be expected by Tuesday evening, with possible rainfall on Wednesday.