FACT OR FICTION: Do we go home when it gets too hot?
THE temperature has gone to 'ridiculous' on the thermometer, the air is still and just moving makes you break into a sweat like you were a marathon runner.
For this reason we asked a few places what their official policies were when extreme temperatures could cause dangerous situations for our students and workers.
Sadly for students, there is no official policy or temperature for sending children home when the heat is high.
"Generally schools are closed only in extreme circumstances such as during fire or flood or for health and safety reasons such as lack of running water making the site unsanitary," a Department of Education spokesperson said.
"Hot weather is generally not considered to be an emergency and there is no set temperature which forces a school to close."
He added that schools and the Education Department do have a duty of care to students and releasing them early into the community can be problematic for parents and the same students could possibly be exposed to greater temperatures outside and in their homes.
Schools do adopt a number of practices to support students and staff including:
- Rotating class use of air-conditioned facilities where available.
- Varying normal teaching programs through the use of shady and cool outdoor facilities.
- Encouraging students to drink water and allowing drink bottles in the classroom.
- Altering timetables or programs to avoid physical activity or the use of equipment that may generate heat.
- Postponing sporting or physical education activities that might stress students or expose them unnecessarily to the sun.
- Using fans or other devices in an appropriate way to remain cool.
- Enforcing school policy for playground or other outdoor activities, e.g., "No hat, play in the shade".
Parents can also assist their students by:
- Sending their children to school with a water bottle. (It can be a good idea to freeze the water overnight so it's nice and cold the next day.)
- Ensuring their children are wearing their school hats.
- Applying sunscreen before they head off to school.
In countries like Germany, however, they have a policy called 'hitzefrei' which literally means 'heat free' and students have shortened days or time off when the heat is unbearable.
The temperature at which hitzefrei kicks is...wait for it....27 degrees celsius.
Maybe our Aussie students are made of sterner stuff.
We've seen council workers out in the hot sun working on the side of the road, or in council areas and wanted to know if any special precautions were made for them.
Lismore City Council advised that they take a risk management approach to hot weather.
"Council has a Personal Protective Equipment Policy that is in line with Australian standards that ensures workers are protected from the sun at all times," a spokesperson said.
"We also send staff safety notices about heat stress each spring and summer with tips on how to protect themselves from heatstroke such as drinking lots of water, seeking out shade at regular intervals and wearing loose fitting clothing that allows good air flow."
Spare a thought for our chefs, cafe workers and waiters who work in artificially heated areas thanks to busy kitchens.
People don't stop eating just because the weather is hot.
Owners of The Spotted Pig at Alphadale, Emily Gray and Iohne Simpson say, despite they weather they continue to power on.
"We have ovens, stoves, gas burners, hot food and hot water with the dish washer going," Ms Gray said.
"We get nice and hot and then at the end of the day we have a nice cold shower or we visit the beach."