TOO HOT: The threat of hot weather with electricity blackouts is a concern for the health of 16-year-old Ambrose Schofield-McGlashan, pictured with mum Maralyn.
TOO HOT: The threat of hot weather with electricity blackouts is a concern for the health of 16-year-old Ambrose Schofield-McGlashan, pictured with mum Maralyn. Hamish Broome

Mum holds grave fears if blackout strikes

FOR teenager Ambrose Schofield-McGlashan hot weather isn't just uncomfortable - it's potentially life threatening.

The 16-year-old Richmond River High student has chronic epilepsy and a heart condition, and when the weather hots up, his daily seizures get longer and more intense.

The mission on hot days is simple - stay inside and try to keep Ambrose's core body temperature down.

"When it's hot, it's really important to keep him as cool as possible or we end up in hospital," Ambrose's mother Maralyn said.

"He has a series of rolling seizures and it's not much fun for him, or for us.

But there is no air conditioning in their home, so Ms Schofield uses pedestal fans draped with wet towels and ice packs.

The concerned mum said she was already dreading this weekend's forecast heatwave, but now holds grave fears of a possible blackout.

"If we haven't got electricity we're kind of in a little bit of strife," she said.

"I know that he will be having more seizures than usual in this weather, he always does, and that's just when it's in the low 30s. You add another 10 degrees to that and it's actually quite frightening.

"The ramifications of (a blackout) are that we can't run the fans, everything in the freezer might melt.

"If I can't keep him cool, he'll have more seizures, and we'll have to go to hospital."

And that's the last thing anyone wants to do on a 40-plus degree day.

"I'm sure the hospital is going to be really busy... it's just one more person clogging up the system that could possibly be avoided if we can just keep the electricity on," Mrs Schofield said.

Power outages aren't just an inconvenience for many Australians in hot conditions - they can be deadly.

Heat stress is Australia's number one natural killer (excepting disease epidemics), killing about 500 people annually, mostly in the summer months.

More Australians die of heat stress each year than floods, fires, and cyclones combined.

But Mrs Schofield said the power outages plaguing NSW could have been avoided, if the state's power plants were not privatised in 2014.

She said politicians needed to get serious about tackling the issue instead of jibing each other in the comfort of the country's air-conditioned houses of parliament.



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