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PSNZ Member Jin Russell talks with RNZ: Keeping Kids Safe in the Heat

5:32 pm on 11 January 2024 

High temperatures are expected to continue through the weekend, prompting a warning to keep young children safe in the heat.

It has also promoted warnings about favourable conditions for wildfires.

MetService said a warm, moist northwesterly flow is sending rain to the west and south of Te Waipounamu, prompting a Heavy Rain Watch for southern Westland until Thursday night.

But the flow is heating up and drying out as it travels over the Southern Alps, raising the mercury in the east with Christchurch reaching 31C by early afternoon.

In the north, settled and sunny days continue into Friday with above average temperatures and mostly isolated showers.

MetService meteorologist Clare O'Connor said a weak cold front would travel up the South Island overnight on Friday, bringing easterly winds and low cloud, but it would be short lived and warmer temperatures would return before a cooler change on Monday.

Heavy rain might reappear on the south and west of the South Island again from Saturday afternoon with temperatures expected to rise again in the east.

That would include the east of the North Island with predictions Hastings could reach 33C on Sunday.

Heat alerts would be issued for areas reaching their highest temperatures and MetService advised people to remain sun smart and keep hydrated.

Parents urged to take care with young children in heat

Te Whatu Ora has issued a reminder to parents to ensure their babies and toddlers were kept hydrated and did not get too much sun.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) was predicting temperatures could rise above 35C in some areas.

Starship Children's Health paediatrician Dr Jin Russell said babies were less capable of regulating their temperature and could quickly become overheated or dehydrated in hot weather.

Dr Jin Russell. Photo: Supplied

Parents can offer their baby extra fluids, dress them lightly and cover their arms and legs from possible sunburn if going outside, make sure they do not become too cold if there was air conditioning and ensure fans were not pointed directly at babies.

"Most importantly - never leave your baby or toddler alone in the car - a car's interior can heat up very quickly when the windows are wound up and your child will overheat very quickly which can be potentially fatal," Dr Russell said.

"Toddlers also need some extra care when it's hot too. Offer them plenty of water to drink, make sure they're wearing a hat, and cover up in the sun or let them play in the shade. Remember to slip, slop, slap and choose a 30+ broad spectrum hypoallergenic sunscreen that is suitable for young children.

"Playing with water in a shady spot outside is a great way to cool down. Always supervise toddlers in or near water. Home-made ice blocks made with fruit juice are an excellent and healthy way to help your child cool down."

Anyone worried about their child can call Healthline for free health advice. 

You can call Healthline any day or time for free on 0800 611 116.

Article originally published on RNZ