Extreme hot weather and prolonged heatwave conditions can cause heat-related illnesses that can be very serious, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heatwaves can affect anybody, but some population groups are more at risk than others: people over 65 years old, or with a chronic medical condition or disability, and people living alone.

See the Department of Health and Human Services website for more information about extreme heat and heatwaves and heat health alerts.

What to do during a heatwave

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Stay out of direct sunlight.
  • Stay in an air-conditioned room, if possible.
  • If you have to be outdoors, wear loose-fitting clothing and a hat.
  • Never leave people or animals in a hot car.
  • Keep an eye on your neighbours, friends, family and pets.
  • Contact your local doctor for advice or triple zero (000) in an emergency if you or someone else is suffering heat-related symptoms.

Heat exhaustion

The symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • pale skin
  • sweating
  • rapid heart rate
  • muscle cramps
  • nausea and vomiting
  • fainting.

If a person has these symptoms:

  • contact a doctor or the Nurse on Call service on 1300 60 60 24 for advice
  • move the person to a cool, shady area and lay them down
  • remove clothing and wet skin with water or wrap in wet cloths, fanning continuously.

Heat stroke

Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition and includes the same symptoms as heat exhaustion, with the addition of dry skin, without sweating.

If a person is suffering from heat stroke:

  • call triple zero (000) for an ambulance
  • while waiting for emergency medical help, move the person to a cool, shady area and lay them down
  • remove clothing and wet skin with water or wrap in wet cloths, fanning continuously
  • do not give the person fluids to drink
  • position an unconscious person on their side and clear their airway
  • monitor the body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops below 38°C, and
  • if medical attention is delayed, seek further instructions from ambulance or hospital emergency staff.

Prepare your home for heatwaves

Heatwaves can make your home very uncomfortable and can be quite dangerous if you are particularly vulnerable to heat.

While air-conditioning can bring some relief during extreme heat, it can be expensive to run and the increased energy use has a big environmental impact. Fortunately, there are some cost-effective ways to make your home more comfortable and reduce the need for air-conditioning, including:

  • insulating your ceiling, walls and underfloor, and sealing draughts to stop cool air from escaping
  • installing external sunshades or awnings, or planting deciduous plants near windows
  • replacing halogen and incandescent bulbs with LED lights to reduce heat - LED globes can last 30 times longer and use a fraction of the electricity of older-style globes
  • double-glazing windows or choosing less expensive options, such as secondary glazing, window films or blinds
  • installing insect-proof security screens so you can open your windows and doors when it cools down outside
  • installing quiet ceiling fans with high-efficiency motors
  • using energy-efficient appliances, such as televisions, fridges and ovens, that produce less heat.

Find out how we prepare for a heatwave in our Heatwave Plan - a strategy to assist, educate and alert vulnerable community members of a declared heatwave to help reduce risks. For general information about emergency planning, see Council's Municipal Emergency Management Plan.