Heatwave

Photo of the sun in a blue sky with clouds

Overview

Extreme heat or heatwave is a period of unusual and uncomfortable hot weather that could negatively affect human health.

Extreme heat can also affect community infrastructure (such as power supply and public transport) and other services.

Extreme heat can affect everyone, however some people are more vulnerable.

Who is most at risk during a heatwave?

  • people aged over 65 years, especially those living alone
  • people with a medical condition such as diabetes, kidney disease or mental illness
  • people taking medications that may affect the way their body reacts to heat such as: allergy medicines (antihistamines); blood pressure and heart medicines (beta-blockers); seizure medicines (anticonvulsants); water pills (diuretics); antidepressants or antipsychotics
  • pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers
  • babies and young children
  • people who are overweight or obese
  • people with problematic alcohol or drug use
  • people with disability
  • people who have trouble moving around such as those who are bed-bound or in a wheelchair
  • people who work or exercise outdoors
  • people who have recently arrived from cooler climates

Heat health alerts

When the heat health temperature threshold is reached in a specific area, a heat health alert is issued. 

These alerts will be published by a range of organisations including councils and emergency services. Nillumbik Shire Council will post on their social media accounts including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as on this website.

You can also check a range of other sources – see our Stay informed page.

To subscribe to heat health alerts, visit the Vic Health website.

 

Preparing for extreme heat

If a heatwave is predicted, there are some simple ways to prepare for extreme heat:

  • Stock up on food, water and medicines so you don’t have to go out in the heat
  • Store medicines safely at the recommended temperature
  • Check that your fan or air-conditioner works well. Have your air-conditioner serviced if necessary
  • Reschedule or reconsider any plans that will involve a lot of sun exposure
  • Think about what you would do if a heatwave caused power failures or disruptions to public transport.
  • Think of a place you and your family can visit to escape the heat if you need to
  • Think of friends, family or neighbours who might be vulnerable and how you could care for them

In the longer term, you might also consider:

  • Ways to make your home cooler such as installing window coverings, shade cloths or external blinds on the sides of the house facing the sun
  • Installing an air conditioner or evaporative cooling

 

During a heatwave

During extreme heat it is easy to become dehydrated and for your body to overheat.

People can develop heat cramps, heat exhaustion or even heatstroke, which can result in permanent damage to vital organs or even death.

To stay safe in the heat:

  • Drink water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Take a bottle with you always.
  • Hot cars kill. Never leave kids, older people or pets in cars. The temperature inside a parked car can double within minutes.
  • Keep cool. Seek out air-conditioned buildings, draw your blinds, use a fan, take cool showers and dress in light and loose clothing made from natural fabrics.
  • Plan ahead. Schedule activities in the coolest part of the day and avoid exercising in the heat. If you must go out, wear a hat and sunscreen and take a bottle of water with you.
  • Check in on others. Look after those most at risk in the heat – your neighbour living alone, the elderly, the young, people with a medical condition and don’t forget your pets.

Heat-related illness kills more Australians than any natural disaster. Heatstroke in particular is a serious medical emergency requiring immediate medical treatment.

Symptoms of heat-related illness include:

  • Deterioration of existing medical conditions
  • Heat rash
  • Heat cramps
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Exhaustion

Find out more at the Better Health website.

If you suspect you or someone else may be showing signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke, call Triple Zero (000) immediately.

What Council does during a heatwave

In the event of a heatwave, some Council services may be cancelled, altered or reduced. 

Make sure to check Council’s website and social media channels (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) for updates.

Find out more about what Council does during an emergency.