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What is a Heatwave?

A heatwave is a period of excessively hot and uncomfortable weather that adversely affects human health or when temperatures rise much higher than usual for several days in a row.

Who is at risk from a Heatwave?

At risk populations fit into one or more of the following categories:

  • Aged and frail, especially those living alone.
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Babies and young children.
  • Homeless or those camping in tents or caravans.
  • People whose physical disabilities or mental illness impair their capacity to self-manage.
  • People taking certain types of medications.
  • People suffering chronic disease.
  • People working outside and particularly undertaking physical exertion or at sporting events.

How to beat the heat

  1. Keep the home cool (retrofit, close out the heat/open when cooler, utilise the coolest rooms, turn off nonessentials).
  2. Keep out of the heat (if you have to go outside, go early or late in the day, change schedules if needed, move to a cooler place if required e.g. other people’s homes, cooler public spaces).
  3. Keep the body cool and hydrated (light loose clothes, damp cloth or shower, spray water, drink plenty of water).
  4. Help others if you can (be part of a buddy system, volunteer to be the person on a care plan).
  5. Know what to do if you have a health problem(know danger signs, medication care, what to do in an emergency).
  6. Know what to do when others feel unwell (know the danger signs, medication care, what to do in an emergency).

Warrnambool’s Heatwave Plan

During the heatwave of late January 2009 there were 374 additional deaths in Victoria as a result of extreme heat. As a result, local governments across Victoria have developed heatwave plans to protect the most vulnerable members of their communities from the impacts of extreme heat.

In the event of a declared heatwave, Council will implement actions guided by this plan.  Some of these actions include:

  • Contacting clients of Council services who may be more vulnerable to the heat – older people, families with babies and small children to provide advice about how to stay well in the heat.
  • Adjusting the work practices of identified Council staff who may be affected by the heat in accordance with the adopted policy.
  • Communicate the risks of heatwave conditions to the general community via the media – encouraging residents to check on their neighbours, accommodation providers to alert visitors to the area, etc.

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