Schools told to cancel sport as temperatures soar

Lungelwa Poni with her 5 year old Ovuyo Poni having fun in the hot weather at Joan Harrison pools in East London.
Lungelwa Poni with her 5 year old Ovuyo Poni having fun in the hot weather at Joan Harrison pools in East London.

Temperatures have reached more than  40ºC in some parts of the Eastern Cape this week, prompting the SA Weather Service (SAWS) to advise schools to cancel sport.

The call has been supported by the Eastern Cape education department, though no incidents of heat exhaustion have yet been reported at any of the province’s schools.

The mercury soared this week, with  SAWS  spokesperson Garth Sampson saying the official discomfort index had already reached 110 in some parts of the Eastern Cape.

From 110 upwards, the heat is officially deemed “hazardous to health”.

When temperature and humidity are high at the same time, humans’ ability to cool their bodies through sweating is reduced,” Sampson said.

“The Eastern Cape is experiencing high temperatures at the moment.

“Areas over the interior west of Cradock and Fort Beaufort can expect temperatures in the high 30s and reaching 40ºC in places.

“Along the coast temperatures can reach up to 33ºC in places.”

“This, accompanied by high humidity along the coast and adjacent interior over the entire region between Plettenberg Bay and Port St Johns, means discomfort levels have already reached 110 in places.”

On Tuesday, East London recorded 30°C while it was expected to be another scorcher on Wednesday, with a maximum of 32°C forecast.

Highs of 35 and 39°C are expected in Mthatha and Komani on Wednesday.

Sampson predicted  there would be slight cooling in the west of the province, with showers and thunder showers expected on Wednesday.

Significant cooling is expected from Thursday with rainy conditions expected. These conditions will clear from the west on Saturday.”

It did not appear as though the temperatures were anything out of the ordinary for this time of year.

“February is usually warmer every year,” Sampson said. “The public is advised to cease strenuous outdoor activity. 

“It is highly recommended that all school sport should be cancelled.

“Stay indoors in a cool room near a fan if possible. The elderly and infirm must take extra care.”

Eastern Cape education spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani said there were no reported incidents of heat exhaustion at any of the 5,400 schools in the province.

“But we trust that our school management teams will heed the call and as they always schedule their school activities accordingly,” Pulumani said.

Grens Laerskool principal Jan Brand said schools had to take every precaution against the heat.

“We are accountable when learners suffer. We have also been taking it day by day.

“Our policy is that we decide around noon if it is safe to continue with sport, because we do not want to put the lives of our pupils at risk,” Brand said.

The hot weather could not come at a worse time for Eastern Cape farmers, who continue to battle the ongoing drought.

Red Meat Eastern Cape secretary Athi Denga said although no reports of animals dying in this week’s heat had been received, the dry weather was taking its toll.

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