TODAY’S forecast searing temperatures has signalled the arrival of summer, with the mercury tipped to soar past 39 degrees.

The hot weather is expected to continue into next week, with maximums above 31 degrees forecast each day through until at least next Wednesday.

The hot weather will also help quicken the curing of grasslands across the region, and lead to increased fire danger, which is expected to be severe in parts of north west Victoria today.

Central and northern Victorian residents have been reminded to take extra care with older family members and pets throughout the hot weather, with a cool change expected to impact on southern areas only from tomorrow.

The onset of hot summer weather comes as the Country Fire Authority releases information showing just one in 10 Victorians living in areas at high risk of bushfire say they would “leave early” on days of high fire danger.

That’s the lowest proportion in the past seven years of the CFA’s Bushfire Community Survey, undertaken annually since 2009-10, which recorded a peak of 15 per cent in 2012.

However, the number of people who said they would ‘stay and defend’ also dropped to 13 per cent, a year after it recorded a high of 17 per cent.

Instead, a third of respondents said they would leave as soon as they knew a fire was threatening their town or suburb, while a quarter said they would do as much as possible to protect their property but leave if they felt threatened by the fire.

Another 10 per cent said they would wait to see what the fire was like before deciding whether to stay or leave, while seven per cent said they would wait for police, fire or emergency services to tell them what to do on the day.

Deputy chief officer Stephanie Rotarangi said those who waited too long to leave, or who were not adequately prepared to defend their property could be risking their lives and those of firefighters.

“Leaving early is the safest option to protect yourself and your family and it means leaving the area before a fire starts – not when you can see flames or smell smoke. Leaving early means avoiding panic, being trapped, making the wrong choices and risking serious injury or death,” she said.

“Victoria’s environment and climate means we live in one of the most fire prone regions in the world, therefore the only way that you can guarantee your safety during a bushfire is not being in it.