Public Health Emergencies

Extreme climate events such as heat waves, cold snaps, have significant impacts on health.

People helping mature woman on city street. Suffering from heat stroke


Extreme heat or heatwaves are a period of unusually hot weather that cause people to become ill from heat-stress or heatstroke – which can be fatal.

Visit the Bureau of Meteorology website for the latest heatwave warnings

Heatwaves are classified into three types, based on intensity.

  • Low-intensity heatwaves are more frequent during summer. Most people can cope during these heatwaves.
  • Severe heatwaves are less frequent and are likely to be more challenging for vulnerable people such as the elderly, particularly those with medical conditions.
  • Extreme heatwaves are rare. They are a problem for people who don't take precautions to keep cool—even for people who are healthy. People who work or exercise outdoors are also at greater risk of being affected.

Visit the Department of Health website for information on preparing for and surviving in extreme hear events. 

Extreme cold

Cold weather increases the risk of illness and death from coughs, lung and heart problems, falls, poor mental health and carbon monoxide poisoning from poorly maintained heating appliances.

During periods of cold weather, make sure you and the people you care for stay warm, well and safe. Check on older neighbours, friends and relatives, especially those living alone or with a health condition, to see how you can help. Make sure they have plenty of food, any medication they might need, and can get out and about.

Find out more about preparing for and surviving cold weather.

Seasonal Asthma

Thunderstorm asthma can be very serious for people with asthma. The peak time for thunderstorm asthma is mainly spring but can extend to December during the grass pollen season.

See the current epidemic thunderstorm asthma risk forecast

You might have a higher chance of a sudden asthma flare-up triggered by a thunderstorm if you have:  

  • seasonal hay fever   
  • current asthma   
  • a history of asthma 
  • undiagnosed asthma

Learn more about recognising the signs of asthma and how to prepare for the risks of seasonal asthma