Residents are urged to avoid unnecessary outdoor work with temperatures forecast to reach 41°C in Greater Shepparton today, triggering an extreme health alert and total fire ban from emergency authorities.
Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Stephen King said hot air above north-west Victoria was moving across the state’s north-east, causing the extreme heat.
‘‘We should see a cool change come later in the afternoon bringing the potential for severe thunderstorms. The day will be a little bit on the windy side, which is what led to a total fire ban warning,’’ Mr King said.
‘‘Maximum temperatures for the following days will be much cooler with 29°C forecast (tomorrow) and 30°C on Thursday. Looking a bit later, Christmas Day is expected to be mostly sunny with a top of 30°C.’’
CFA District 22 duty officer John Leben said brigades were preparing for all situations and from 10am would have an incident management team ready at the Shepparton control centre.
Mr Leben said the CFA’s main concerns were many farmers were busy harvesting grain and there was the potential for sparks from machinery to cause fast-spreading fires.
‘‘We’ve given out a joint publication from CFA and Victorian Farmers Federation called the Voluntary Grain Harvest Guide that has the best information on how to proceed on total fire ban days,’’ he said.
‘‘We ask farmers to follow the guide and where possible don’t use farm machinery on a total fire ban day.’’
Mr Leben said the general message for people in Shepparton was to be aware of where you are, if you don’t need to do something today, don’t do it. Do it on days when temperatures are less and stay safe.
‘‘Put off going to Melbourne for the Christmas shopping and be aware; monitor any fires that start in your local area,’’ he said.
Mr Leben said tomorrow was too late to have your fire plan in place — it should be enacted today — and also too late to get a permit section 40 to do work on a total fire ban day.
‘‘Refer to the Can I Can’t I Guide by the CFA for more detailed information,’’ Mr Leben said.
Greater Shepparton City Council’s community director Kaye Thomson said it was important residents kept an eye on vulnerable people, including those aged over 65, particularly those living without air conditioning, children under five, pregnant or breastfeeding women and people with existing medical conditions.
‘‘Many vulnerable people do not have friends or relatives living nearby, so if you have an elderly neighbour or live near someone you know is unwell, make sure to keep an eye on them during hot weather,’’ Ms Thomson said.
‘‘The temperature of the inside of a car can double within minutes, possibly leading to heat exhaustion and death. Please never leave kids, pets or adults in a parked car during hot weather.
‘‘We also encourage people or businesses where staff are required to work outdoors in the heat to look to alternative work activities to ensure good health of their staff. This could include starting and finishing work earlier, or working indoors if possible.’’