VICTORIA'S chief health officer has warned that heat kills more people than natural disasters as a blast of baking hot weather gathers.
Central Victoria is expected to be gripped by a severe heat wave over coming days.
The city is expected to sweat through a 36 degree day on Thursday and for temperatures to climb into the high 30s through the weekend, with little reprieve at night.
Chief health officer Brett Sutton said extreme heat can affect anyone.
Pregnant women, people with a pre-existing medical condition, people aged over 65 and children and babies are most at risk.
Dr Sutton said people should drink more water, keep cool, plan ahead and check in on others.
He also warned people never to leave children, older people or pets in cars.
The heatwave coincides with the New Year's period and CFA crews fear illegal fireworks could increase the risk of out of control fires.
"Fuel loads throughout the Bendigo district have been very high," district 18 commander Robin McNally said on Wednesday.
"That increases the risk of a fast-running fire moving through the landscape."
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