Heatwave Q and As with Victoria Police
Victoria Police is the lead agency for managing emergencies during a heatwave.
Senior Sergeant Ciaran Boyle from Richmond Police Station shares his knowledge and tips for managing heatwaves below:
What is a heatwave and why is it defined as an emergency risk to the Yarra community?
When we say ‘heatwave’, we mean a period of unusually hot weather posing a real risk to community health, infrastructure and services.
If the temperature in Yarra averages 30 degrees or more over a period of 24 hours, this triggers a heat health alert for us. We’re always aware that prolonged heat of this kind can have a negative impact on the community.
In Yarra, what can we expect to happen in a heatwave emergency?
More deaths result from heatwaves than from than any other type of natural disaster in Australia, including bushfires and floods!
The heat can also damage our community infrastructure, natural environment, agriculture and economy. People also tend a get a little hot under the collar during these periods, so we have to keep an eye out for that as well. In Yarra, residents and visitors may see the following things happen in a heatwave:
- Shops may close
- Power may go out
- Public transport may not work
- People may be more aggressive
- Fires may occur
- Hospitals and social services may become overwhelmed.
So as you can see, heatwaves can quickly escalate to being a community emergency!
What role does Victoria Police have to play during heatwaves in Yarra?
Victoria Police is the control agency during a heatwave emergency. We coordinate the operational response to manage the issues around the risks I mentioned above.
How do you keep your cool in a heatwave?
Personally, I’m partial to a quick run under the sprinkler to keep it fresh!
I have to get around in uniform, but when I’m at home I might even drape a wet cloth around the base of my neck. I keep the pets inside and make sure they have plenty of water and I’ll put damp socks on the kids’ feet to keep them cool.
What ‘hot tips’ can you give people in Yarra to stay safe in a heatwave?
During a period of intense heat, I advise Yarra residents and visitors to take the following steps:
- Cool down your home - Turn off lights and other electrical equipment you don’t need and move to the coolest room of the house.
- Stay out of the heat - Avoid sport and travel and other physical strains during the hottest part of the day. Wear light and loose-fitting clothes.
- Keep hydrated - Drink water even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid alcohol and coffee as this dehydrates you. Also consider covering your neck with a damp cloth or putting your feet in a bucket of cool water.
- Assist others - Never leave children or pets in cars. Remember to check on your family, friends and neighbours who may be more fragile than you.
- Get help if you need it - Call 000 in an emergency. For 24/7 health advice you can reach NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 6060 24.
Where can I get more information on heatwave safety?
Yarra Council and the Department of Health provide tips for keeping cool in the heat.
For any additional questions and feedback, contact Council’s Emergency Management Planning Officer on 9205 5550.
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