Summer heatwave record looms for Ballarat

BALLARAT is expected to record its hottest summer in 30 years this week, with a forecast top of 38 degrees today and 36 degrees next Wednesday.

If both days reach their forecast maximum temperature, it will be the first time in three decades that a Ballarat summer has seen more than 10 days over 35 degrees. 

The last time this happened was in the summer of 1981 and 1982, when the Bureau of Meteorology recorded 11 days over 35 degrees.

So far, Ballarat has already recorded 10 days where the temperature exceeded 35 degrees – and there are still three weeks of summer to go. 

While metropolitan emergency services have responded to hundreds of call-outs for heat-related illness this summer, Ballarat health authorities have been unable to reveal the number of patients treated for heat exhaustion. 

Ballarat’s various health services stated they could not provide the number of Ballarat patients that presented to the emergency department or the number admitted for heat stroke, exhaustion or dehydration across the summer. 

Ballarat Base Hospital head of medicine doctor James Hurley said it was difficult to distinguish heat-related admissions and presentations. 

“It is pretty uncommon that we can identify heat-related injuries,” Dr Hurley said. 

“There are so many aspects of that data that will not include specific cases of heat stroke.” 

Medicare Local Grampians GP advisor Dr Colin Crook said he very rarely saw patients present to his practice with heat exhaustion.

“I don’t think they come to their GP if they are affected by the heat,” Dr Crook said. “They will go to the emergency department.” 

Ambulance Victoria responded to 19 calls to heat exhaustion cases in the Grampians region during January’s week-long heat wave, which began on January 13.

Ambulance Victoria said it could not provide updated figures or a suburb breakdown for the number of heat-related illnesses in Ballarat across the summer before The Courier went to print last night.

Dr Hurley advised locals to stay cool this week and to keep a close eye on the frail and vulnerable. 

“It seems reasonable that people will encounter heat-related illnesses when the temperature exceeds 35 degrees and to have a number of hot days in a row,” Dr Hurley said. “Looking after yourself in the heat is common sense. Limit your time outside.”

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