Heatwaves – Get the Facts
Heatwaves are caused by extremely hot and humid days with very little air movement to help cool things down.
As our cities and towns get hotter and hotter during heatwave conditions, people and animals have difficulty in keeping cool.
Why are heatwaves dangerous?
During heatwaves, there is not much wind around to cool down the Sun’s heat. This means that most of the heat gets trapped close to the ground and the lower air levels.
As the temperature rises, people, animals and plants suffer from heat stress.
Heat stress - People
A man tries to keep cool with water during a
Heatwaves cause stress on the body when there is too much heat being absorbed and not enough heat being lost though the body’s normal cooling processes.
When a person is not able to cool down, their body temperature gets higher, they breathe quicker and their pulse increases.
As the body gets hotter and hotter, water is lost from their blood and it gets thicker. This can cause heat stroke and people can suffer serious or even fatal consequences.
Heat stress - Animals
Animals can suffer the effects of heat stress as well.
When there is not enough shade or water for animals, they may change their behaviour. Animals will look for shelter from the heat under trees or near bushes, start sweating and panting, drooling, drink more water and have a reduced appetite for food.
Heat stress - Plants
Plants, crops and vegetables are also affected by severe heat.
When the temperature is high for a long time, plants lose their moisture and can die. Even tough native Australian plants can suffer from heat stress.
As plants start to die from the effects of heatwaves, the threat of bushfires increases.