Hawke's Bay battles extreme heat

By AMY SHANKS


Sweltering temperatures throughout the region are responsible for a rise in heat-related health issues and have sent people scrambling to stock up on summer essentials such as fans and suncreen.

Sunday's high of 33C in Napier and 32C in Hastings continued this week, with 32C and 30C for the respective cities on Monday. Yesterday's temperature dropped only slightly to 29C for both places.

While Hawke's Bay District Health Board was unable to supply specific data on the number of sunburn and heat related presentations, Emergency Department consultant Craig Ellis had noticed more elderly patients with dehydration and other heat-related illnesses on particularly hot days.

"Staying out of the direct sun, keeping as cool as possible and drinking plenty of fluids such as water is important for all, but especially frail or vulnerable people such as infants or elderly people," Dr Ellis advised.

Severe sunburn was also a hot topic, with many failing to take head of warnings to stay safe.

"Every summer, ED see too many people who have ignored the slip, slop, slap and wrap message, who are suffering from sunburn and have exposed themselves to the associated long-term risk of skin cancer."

Families hoping to cool off were flocking to Splash Planet in Hastings, experiencing some of its highest visitor figures in years.

Meanwhile, Napier's Ocean Spa noted a steady flow of swimmers during the day, with numbers picking up significantly at night.

"It's always quite busy come the evening," assistant manager Rochelle Brooks said.

Those not taking to the pools were hitting the beach, according to Surf Life Saving New Zealand eastern club development officer David Beattie.

"There has been lots and lots of people - numbers have been quite high at all the beaches," he said. "Ocean Beach, Waimarama, Westshore and Marine Parade have all had lots of swimmers."

People were arriving from early morning right until dusk to cool off, and despite the crowds, there had been no serious incidents due in part to calm sea conditions.

Hawke's Bay residents braving the heat had also been buying supplies of sunscreen, insect repellent and soothing creams in lieu of the former, said Unichem Hughes & Smyth Pharmacy retail manager Karla Rolls.

"It is definitely up on last year," she said.

Her staff were recommending customers applied their sunblock 20 minutes before going into the sun, and that they use fake-tanning products instead of bronzing naturally.

The heat also affected demand for fans, with retailers reporting a huge rush as the hot weather struck. Briscoes and Mitre 10 Mega in Hastings, and Kmart and The Warehouse in Napier had sold out yesterday, with staff unsure when stocks would be replenished.

The Warehouse, Hastings and Mitre 10 Mega Napier had a limited supply yesterday but could not say how long they would last.

"We have been selling a lot of them. Literally every second customer wants one. It's been a crazy few days since the weekend," a Mitre 10 Mega staff member said.

At Cool Cat Ice Cream Parlour at Ahuriri, owner-manager Nigel Parker was boasting a bumper summer season.

"It's been huge, especially after last summer. We are noticing a big difference. It's continuing and doesn't seem to be dropping off."

Warm conditions provided the perfect breeding conditions for creepy crawlies and local exterminators said they'd had an influx of demand in the past few weeks.

Garon Buczyneski, owner and technician at Splatter, said this week especially had been busy.

"We certainly have had an influx of phone calls over the last few days particularly," he said. "Everything from flies, cockroaches and ants."

Metservice forecaster Nicole Ranger predicted slightly cooler temperatures were on the way for the rest of the week, with a high of 27C across that period.

"[Today] is fine, Thursday there will be a few showers, Friday and Saturday should both be fine," she said.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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