The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) warned that extremely high temperatures are forecast in South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales (NSW) regions from Saturday, December 28, to Monday, December 30. Temperatures are expected to reach as high as 40-47°C (86-117°F). Authorities fear that heatwaves could potentially spread existing wildfires across the region.
Over 3 million hectares (7,413,161 acres) of land have been burned, and at least 829 houses destroyed since the wildfires broke out in NSW on October 9. Authorities have indicated that the fires were due to high temperatures and droughts.
Wildfires are an annual event in Australia between December and February; however, authorities have been on high alert since September 2015 over unseasonably warm temperatures, prompting scientists to speculate that climate change could be extending and increasing the intensity of the fire season.
Individuals in the affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, avoid strenuous activities or spending time outdoors, particularly during midday, wear loose-fitting clothing, drink plenty of water and avoid dehydrating liquids, such as alcoholic, sugary, or caffeinated drinks, and seek immediate medical attention if exhibiting symptoms of heat stroke, such as nausea, confusion, headache, rapid and strong pulse, and dry skin.