Mildura Life Saving Club members, and sisters, Abigail, 17, and Elizabeth Rowe, 16, will be among the many life savers on high alert this weekend as Sunraysia residents and visitors are expected to flock to Apex Park beach in an effort to beat forecast temperatures in excess of 44 degrees. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By PAUL MENSCH and VINNIE RODI

MILDURA is in for a scorcher this weekend, with high temperatures forecast today, tomorrow and Sunday forcing many health and emergency services personnel to go on high alert.

Among those agencies will be the Mildura Life Saving Club, with members to step up patrols at Apex Park as Mildura gets set to sizzle.

The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting the temperature in Mildura to reach 44 degrees tomorrow, with patrols at the popular Apex Park site scheduled from 12.30pm to 5.30pm tomorrow and Sunday.

Mildura Life Saving Club captain, Dennis McLaughlan, said the club was expecting beach-goer numbers to increase this weekend as a result.

“We have full patrols ready to go this weekend to ensure the public is safe,” he said. “We also want to remind people not to over-exert themselves in the hot weather.

“Make sure you have plenty of water, and please be careful with alcohol consumption – drinking in the sun catches up with you very quickly.”

Dennis said that local patrols try to take preventative actions in extreme heat conditions, including talking to people about not swimming if they are drinking.

“You don’t want people trying to swim across the river after 20 beers,” he said. “I highly recommend coming down to Apex Park this weekend between 12.30pm and 5.30pm, as the life savers will be on patrol to make the beach safe, but people still need to be careful.

“If we ask you not to do something, we are doing it for your safety and the safety of others around you.”

Safety will be at the forefront of life savers’ minds this weekend, with members already called into action over the holiday period.

“Two people required rescuing on Boxing Day,” Dennis said. “They had got themselves into a position where they were not comfortable and required assistance from one of our members.”

Meanwhile, firefighters attached to the Forest Fire Management (FFM) Victoria Mallee District are also on standby ahead of the predicted scorcher, while also calling on the public to stay informed.

FFM Victoria Mallee District Manager, Phil Murdoch, said with the Bureau of Meteorology predicting a top temperature of 44 degrees for the Mallee, and wind gusts of up to 30 kilometres an hour expected tomorrow, it was important people did all they could to remain safe.

“The forests and parks are already very dry and the Fire Danger will reach extreme,” he said. “Forest Fire Management Victoria has crews on standby, as well as two fire-fighting aircraft ready to respond from our airbase at Linga.

“Boat patrols will be out on Thursday and Friday along the Murray River ensuring campfires meet regulations and everyone is doing the right thing.

“We’re urging anyone going camping, especially on Saturday, to be very careful and plan ahead.

“Before heading out, make sure you have an escape route in case you are cut off by a bushfire. Check the weather conditions, and if it is a Total Fire Ban (TFB) do not have a campfire. It is illegal to light a campfire on a TFB day.”

Mr Murdoch said that with a number of people from across the country holidaying in the Mallee, FFM Victoria was expecting to find several campers along the Murray River.

“With people on summer holidays, there’ll be plenty of campers enjoying the Mallee’s terrific parks or the river, and we want them to have a great time and be safe,” he said. “People must be careful, especially when it comes to campfires as gusty winds will easily carry embers out of a campfire and into the bush.”

Meanwhile the Mildura Life Saving Club will continue its efforts to interact with the public, with plans in place to leave boards on the beach for kids to use under supervision during the hot spell.

The club itself now boasts more than 130 members, and while growing, they are always on the lookout for new members to help with patrols.

“You need to have your Bronze Medallion, so if you are new to town, please come on down, join up, get your accreditation and give us a hand,” Dennis said.

The club also has an exciting Nipper program, with more than 50 children taking part.

The program kicks off again on January 14, with any interested kids invited to come to the club and find out more.

The program focuses on both surf and river safety.