A heatwave is a period of unusual hot weather that can cause serious health effects. Heatwaves can make existing medical conditions worse and cause heat-related illness, which may be fatal. 

It can also affect community infrastructure such as the power supply, public transport and other services.   

Contact information

  • For 24-hour health advice call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24.
  • For life-threatening emergencies call 000.


Who is most at risk?

Those most at risk during a heatwave are:

  • people aged over 65 years, especially those living alone,
  • people with medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease or mental illness,
  • people taking certain medications,
  • people with problematic alcohol or drug use,
  • people with a disability who may not be able to communicate their discomfort or thirst,
  • people who have trouble moving around,
  • people who are overweight or obese,
  • pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, babies and young children,
  • people who work or are physically active outdoors, and
  • people who live in the upper levels of buildings constructed before 1975.

Coping with the heat

  • Look after yourself and keep in touch with sick or frail friends, neighbours and relatives,
  • Drink plenty of water,
  • Keep yourself cool using wet towels, putting your feet in cool water and taking cool showers,
  • Spend as much time as possible in cool or air-conditioned buildings,
  • Close blinds during the day and open windows when there is a cool breeze,
  • Don’t leave children, adults or animals in parked cars,
  • Stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day, if you must go out, stay in the shade and take water with you,
  • Wear loose fitting, light-coloured clothing,
  • Eat smaller meals more often and cold meals such as salads,
  • Make sure food that needs refrigeration is stored properly,
  • Avoid strenuous activity, and
  • Watch or listen to news reports that provide more information during a heatwave.

Preparing for hot weather

  • Service your air conditioner before summer,
  • Stock up on food, water and medicines so you don’t need to go out in the heat,
  • Store medicines at the recommended temperature,
  • Install awnings, shade cloth or external blinds on the sides of the house facing the sun, and
  • Know where your closest ‘cool places’ are.

Preparing for power failure

  • The risk of power outage is greater in extreme weather conditions. Make sure you have a plan in case of a blackout, 
  • Plan what you would do if a heatwave caused a blackout or disrupted public transport,
  • Ensure you have a torch, fully charged mobile phone and battery-operated radio,
  • Consider your need for back-up power and don’t rely on power as part of your bushfire preparedness plan, and
  •  Remember power outages can affect phones, radios and water pumps. 
The Victorian Government website has more useful information.