A heatwave is an extended period of abnormally and uncomfortably hot and unusually humid weather.
During the 20th century, heatwaves have caused more deaths in Australia than any other natural hazard. With global warming resulting in rising temperatures and common extreme weather circumstances, heatwaves have become a part of life in Australia.
Are you prepared for the extreme heat?
Heatwaves can have a detrimental impact on communities. They affect many parts of everyday life such as health and wellbeing, energy and infrastructure, public transport and agriculture. They can also contribute to an increased fire risk and heat stressed trees, which pose a significant threat to public safety.
To learn more about how you can prepare for and reduce the impact of extreme heat see the tips below.
Who is most at risk?
The heat can affect anyone, but some people run a greater risk of serious harm. Those at serious risk include:
Dress for summer
|Check on those at risk|
Visit at risk individuals such as the sick and elderly at least twice a day and keep an eye on children. Watch for signs of heat-related illness.
|Minimise sun exposure|
Keep out of the sun as much as possible. If you must be in the sun, wear a shirt, hat and sunglasses. Also make sure you wear sunscreen to prevent sunburn, which limits the body's ability to cope with heat.
|Prepare your home|
Prepare your home early. Service or replace your air conditioner BEFORE you need it. Curtains, awnings and blinds can also help to keep the home cool.
|Make use of air conditioning|
If you don't have air conditioning, make use of public facilities such as shopping centres, art galleries, cinemas or other air conditioned buildings. Portable fans are also useful in drawing in cool air, or exhausting warm air from a room.
|Remember your pets|
Pets can be particularly vulnerable to the heat. Make sure they have shade and plenty of cool water to last the day.
|Seek medical advice if necessary|
For medical advice contact your local GP or telephone Healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222. For immediate medical assistance telephone 000
Download a copy of the SES Heatwave Information Guide
Visit the Health website for further fact sheets about staying healthy in the heat in different languages.