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Andrew Dickens: Putting the heatwave into perspective

Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Thursday, 31 January 2019, 12:16p.m.

It’s officially a heatwave is some parts of the country and coming to other parts within days. A heatwave is five days in a row five degrees over the average temperature.

So it’s hot. 

But interestingly not as hot a January as last year. And we need to put the hot into perspective. It’s not Melbourne hot, or Alice Springs hot. It’s more Rarotonga hot or South of France hot so it’s actually quite pleasant. As long as you know how to cope.

So a friend of mine is in the middle of a two room house renovation and the builders are in.  Normally they turn up at 7 to 7.30am and get working at 8am. But yesterday they turned up at 5am and started working by 6am. They knocked off work at 2pm because it only gets hotter as the day goes on. Smart.

I don’t have to worry about peak heat because I’m indoors in air con. But yesterday Helen worked from home. I got home about 5pm to find her melting in a puddle. All the windows open. And that was her mistake. Our living room faces west. The sun and heat had been streaming into the house ever since the sun went over the yardarm. So around the house I went. Closing the west windows and drawing the curtains. The difference was incredible.

It’s actually about keeping the heat out rather than letting the cool in and these are things that people in hotter climates know well. For instance, if you’re putting a fan in the window make sure it’s pointing out to blow the hot air away. Another trick is to hang a wet towel over the window to help cool the air.

Some people have been putting cool face towels on your forehead to cool down. Now while that feels good it’s not actually the best place to do it. The idea is to find pulse points where the blood is close to the surface so you could that and the cooler blood heads off to your innards. So that your temple by the ear, your neck, your wrists. The insides of your elbows and knees are two other common pressure points, as well as the tops of your feet and insides of your ankle.

I was thinking about the heat and my dog this morning. Today the dog has been locked indoors while we’re at work, with loads of water and all the curtains drawn and her bed placed at the eastern most side of the house for a hot afternoon nap in the cool.

And today I got up a bit earlier than normal to walk the dog in the coolest temperatures. Even at 7.30am I walked on the shady side of the street. And while I was walking I came across some friends walking their little dog.  But they also have a big dog. By big I mean enormous. An eight foot long dog. I don’t know what it is but there’s some St Bernard in there with long, long shaggy hair.  When they stop at a café the dog lies on the footpath and covers all the footpath.

Anyway I figured they left the old guy at home today because of the heat. So I asked after the dog and it was heartbreaking to hear the old fella died yesterday. Gently expired of a heart attack, panting away, despite everything they could do to cool him down.

He was just too hot, he was just too old.

So the heatwave is a thing and for some it’s very dangerous and it’s around for a couple of days yet, so use your common sense and drink loads of water.

ON AIR: Marcus Lush Nights

8p.m. - 11:59p.m.