South Reels Under Hot Weather

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Yesterday was unbearably hot for many people in the south, especially for farmers as temperatures climbed to 40 degrees Celsius, stirring worry over their livestock. There is concern that with the current heat wave in the south coupled with the shortage of water in reservoirs and dams, the situation could ultimately lead to livestock deaths. A housewife on a Keetmanshoop farm, Derdine de Klerk, informed New Era that although they have not lost any of their animals to the hot temperatures, they were worried that water was becoming scarce. “It’s really hot here and the big problem with heat is that the sheep are drinking a lot of water and therefore one has to make extra sure that your water installations and reservoirs are working properly,” said De Klerk. Farmers fear that if animals went without water on one single day, they could die from dehydration because of the heat. Meanwhile, residents of Keetmanshoop and Mariental felt the stress of the heat yesterday as temperatures soared, with many people taking precautions to avoid the scorching sun. “Yes it is very hot, but we look after our guests because they are in air-conditioned rooms. Today is exceptionally hot and generally we all suffer from the heat even if it is 38 or 39 degrees Celsius,” said an employee of La Vida Inn in Mariental. There were no reports of people being taken to hospitals or clinics at Mariental or Keetmanshoop. Registered nurse Maryna Khun at the Mariental State Clinic advised people to avoid heat exhaustion by staying out of the sun or to preferably wear a hat or just stay in the shade or indoors, especially children who get nosebleeds. “Mostly children get nosebleeds because of the heat so I would advise parents not to allow their children to play in the sun. It so happens that after playing, they bleed at night,” explained Sister Khun. Generally, elderly people, young children and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to become victims of extreme heat. Because men sweat more than women, they are more susceptible to heat-related illness. The duration of excessive heat plays an important role in how people are affected by a heat wave. Studies have shown that a significant rise in heat-related illnesses happens when excessive heat lasts more than two days. Spending at least two hours per day in air-conditioning significantly cuts down on the number of heat-related illnesses. Signs of heat exhaustion are a flushed pale face, heavy sweating, nausea or vomiting, dizziness and exhaustion. As for heat stoke, the symptoms are hot red skin, weak pulse and shallow breathing. Meanwhile, residents of Keetmanshoop have little chance of escaping from the oppressive heat as the town’s public swimming pool remains closed. In earlier interviews with the media the town’s Chief Executive Officer Jerry Shangadi said maintaining the swimming pool had become a financial burden for the municipality. Shangadi noted that N$15 000 was spent on maintaining the swimming pool in 2005 and that it would be permanently closed unless a lease agreement was reached with interested business people. He also suggested that the swimming pool might have reached the end of its lifespan. Victor Kaurimuje of the Windhoek Met Office says there will be some relief from the heat in the south from today, when the weather system starts to normalise. “The hot temperatures are due to a stagnant dominant high pressure system over the sub-continent. But now it will become cooler because the high pressure, which was over the Namibian interior, somewhat moved to the east, so there will be a weakness in pressure. This weakness is followed by another high over the Atlantic Ocean averting cooler air over the sub-continent, hence the drop in temperature,” explained Kaurimuje.