The effect of heatwave, particularly on the more vulnerable in our community, is perhaps the most under-rated natural risk. During extreme heat, people can suffer from heat stress when the body absorbs more heat that it can dispel.
How to reduce the risk of heatstroke
Acting quickly can help reduce the risk of developing heatstroke. Here’s how:
Drink plenty of water and fluids to help to maintain your body’s hydration. Avoid alcohol and sugary/fizzy drinks as these can lead to dehydration.
Keep your body cool ‑ use damp towels, have a cool shower, wear appropriate clothing and avoid strenuous activity.
Block out the sun during the day by closing curtains and blinds, and open up windows and doors where there is a cool breeze.
Spend as much time as possible in cool or air-conditioned buildings (for example, in shopping centres, galleries or museums).
If you must go outside, stay in the shade and take plenty of water with you.
Do not leave children and/or pets alone in parked vehicles under any circumstances.
If you suffer a chronic illness or feel ill, see your doctor.
Keep animals and pets either indoors or in the shade, with access to plenty of water.
Victorian Heat Health Alert System
A heat health alert system has been developed to notify local governments of impending heatwaves.
The Health Department monitors the Bureau of Meteorology website for seven-day maximum and minimum temperatures. When the 'heat health temperature threshold' is reached, it means that the temperature is likely to impact on the health of the community, and a heat health alert will then be issued to local governments.
For all local government areas in Victoria, except the Mildura area, the heat health threshold is a daily mean temperature of 30oC.
Council’s role in managing heatwave risk
In Victoria, local governments are responsible for addressing risks associated with heatwaves at a community level.
The City of Ballarat is committed to a range of activities that support people in the community who are at a greater risk of suffering heat-related illnesses. Such strategies include:
Identifying the most susceptible aged care or home and community care (HACC) clients to contact during periods of extreme heat and providing additional training for HACC workers.
Conducting media campaigns to raise awareness of heatwaves and educate the community on how to stay safe on high risk days.
These strategies and more are set out in Council’s Heatwave Plan, which aims to minimise the health risks associated with heatwaves on the community. The Heatwave Plan forms part of Council’s Municipal Emergency Management Plan.