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State Of Emergency Declared Amid Escalating Bushfire Crisis

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has declared a state of emergency for the next seven days as the bushfire disaster worsens.

It's the second time within weeks that NSW has been placed under such a warning.

It comes as the mercury is forecast to soar to 45 degrees at Penrith in Sydney's west as well as in Hay and Griffith on Thursday, while the CBD will reach 41.

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Such high temperatures combined with a gusty cool change in the afternoon are expected to cause extremely dangerous conditions for firefighters, especially around the mega blaze burning in the Blue Mountains.

The premier said the biggest concern was the unpredictability of the weather.

"We don’t take these declarations lightly. We only take them when the conditions are so severe that we want everybody to be alert.

The Gospers Mountain fire is among the biggest concern. Image: Getty

"We want to ensure Commissioner Fitzsimmons has all the authority legally and all the powers that he has to ensure that he can take any decision to protect life and property," she said.

RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said that the conditions would remain "very serious and dangerous," for several days.

"While today is going to be a very bad day, a dangerous day in NSW, the forecast is that Saturday will be even worse," he said.

NSW Rural Fire Service crews protect properties as the Wrights Creek fire approaches Mangrove Mountain north of Sydney. Image: Dan Himbrechts/ AAP

Anyone travelling ahead of Christmas is being urged to be prepared to change plans.

"Please do your research before you embark anywhere across the state," Berejiklian said.

"Please be clear what your plans are. Please make sure you are prepared to change your plans should circumstances change.

"The biggest concern over the next few days as the unpredictability, with extreme wind conditions, extremely hot temperatures".

The Premier receiving a briefing at RFS HQ on Wednesday. Image: Gladys Berejiklian via Twitter

The smoke that has choked the city for the last month is also expected to return for the rest of the week, as extreme fire weather warnings were issued for the Greater Sydney Region, Illawarra and Shoalhaven and the Southern Ranges.

A total fire ban will also remain in place across the state until at least Sunday.

Image: Windy.com

According to preliminary figures from the Bureau of Meteorology, Tuesday was the hottest day in Australia, as a whole, on record.

Australia notched up a staggering 40.9-degree average maximum temperature across the country, smashing the previous record of 40.3 degrees set on January 7, 2013.

Areas in southern and central Australia saw temperatures between eight and 16 degrees above the average for this time of year, BOM said.

The record isn't expected to hold for long. According to the weather bureau, the hottest day of the week for Adelaide, Melbourne, and Hobart will be on Friday before an expected cold front moves through.

Temperatures are forecast to reach 45 degrees in Adelaide on Friday, 43 degrees in Melbourne and 33 degrees in Hobart.

A number of local records have already tumbled across Queensland this week, with several regions smashing decades-long records as temperatures soared into the 40s.

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Brisbane Just Sweat Through A Record-Breaking Hot Day

Brisbane has sweltered through its equal-hottest December day on record.

The relentless heatwave is prompting more health warnings from authorities.

Medical advisor in Environmental Health, Dr. Adi Vyas said temperatures climbing into the mid-40s, combined with the persistent poor air quality from bushfires was cause for concern for residents across NSW.

Vyas said it was important people started taking precautions as early as possible.

“We know that combined effects of bushfire smoke and extreme temperatures have the potential to cause severe illness, hospital admissions, and even death,” Vyas said.

A woman takes a photo as smoke fills the air in the Blue Mountains, NSW. Image: Nina Lipscombe Art

"People over the age of 75, people with chronic conditions and those who live alone are most vulnerable."

“Some signs of heat-related illness include dizziness, tiredness, irritability, thirst, fainting, muscle pains or cramps, rapid pulse, shallow breathing, vomiting, and confusion.

What Can You Do To Beat The Heat?

Health authorities say there are a few simple things you can do to reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses.

They include avoiding going outside during the hottest parts of the day and keeping cool indoors by using air-conditioning or fans and keeping drawing blinds and curtains closed.

Image: Getty Images

They're also reminding people to keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water and to check on vulnerable neighbours, friends, and family.

But if you're struggling without air conditioning or good fans at home, there are also places you can get to around the city to keep cool.

They include:

  • Going to a shopping centre
  • Going to see a movie
  • Reading at a local library
  • Visiting an art gallery or museum
  • Going ice skating
  • Visting a pool or waterpark

Some places across Sydney are taking advantage of the hot weather, promising Christmas events with a heap of snow.

A Christmas festival in Sydney's west which kicks off next week will even include a toboggan slide and ice-skating rink and snowfall for the Sydney Santa Spectacular.

Contact Viki: Vgerova@networkten.com.au