Be safe in extreme heat

Heatwaves can have a significant impact on the community’s health, causing serious illness and in some cases death. In Australia heatwaves cause more deaths than any other type of natural disaster.

What is a heatwave?

A heatwave is a period of unusually extreme high temperature, normally defined as a 3 or more day period where the average temperature for each day and night is 30°C or more.

How can I be affected in a heatwave?

Heat can be harmful to your health. During a heatwave, you could be affected in the following ways:

  • illness as a result of the heat (dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke)
  • shops may close
  • power may go out (blackouts)public transport may not work
  • hospitals and social services may become overwhelmed
  • ambulance waiting times could be longer
  • fires could break out
  • some of our services may change (such as rubbish collection times and opening hours)
  • people may be more aggressive

Who is vulnerable in a heatwave?

The following people are more vulnerable during a heatwave:

  • people over 65 years of age
  • people who are overweight or obese
  • pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • babies, infants and children
  • people who are chronically ill
  • people with limited or poor mobility
  • people taking certain medications
  • people from different cultural backgrounds and people who don’t understand English
  • people experiencing homelessness
  • outdoor workers and event goers
  • anyone else who cannot find relief from the heat for at least 2 hours a day

What can I do to prepare?

Before a heatwave

Plan for hot weather:

  • assess whether your home is prepared to cope with hot weather
  • look at things you can do to make your home cooler, such as planting trees or installing awnings, shade cloth or external blinds on the sides of the house that face the sun
  • what if the electricity was out, public transport would be disrupted, schools and workplaces maybe closed
  • check your fans and have your air-conditioner serviced
  • how can you help people you know who may need assistance in a heatwave?

During a heatwave

Cool down your home:

  • close windows during the day if they are exposed to the sun and open windows at night when the temperature is cooler
  • turn off lights and electrical equipment if they are non-essential
  • sleep in the coolest room of the home.

Stay out of the heat:

  • keep out of the sun during the hottest part of the day
  • avoid intense physical exercise
  • wear light, loose fitting clothes
  • find an air conditioned place to spend the day (i.e. library, pool)
  • avoid outdoor travel and activities

Keep cool and hydrated:

  • drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty
  • avoid caffeine and alcohol as they dehydrate
  • take a cool (not ice cold) shower
  • spray water on your skin or clothes
  • dip a cloth in cold water and wipe your face, neck and arms
  • eat cold foods like salads, fruit and cold soups

How you can assist others:

  • never leave children or pets in cars
  • contact sick family and neighbours to check they are ok
  • recognise the signs of heat related illnesses in others and get help
  • listen to news reports that provide information during a heatwave

Get help

For 24-hour health advice contact:

  • Nurse-On-Call: 1300 60 60 24
  • For life-threatening emergencies call 000

Beat the heat video

For more tips watch the beat the heat video.

Keep Cool in Yarra poster

You can download a poster with tips on how to beat the heat poster.

Translated versions:

For more information call Yarra City Council on 9205 5555 or email