Prolonged periods of extremely hot weather are known through International and Australian experiences, to be associated with marked, short-term increases in morbidity and mortality in vulnerable population groups.
Climate scientists have concluded that global warming is undoubtedly occurring and climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of heatwaves in Victoria.
In January 2009, Victoria experienced an unprecedented state-wide heatwave, with Melbourne experiencing three consecutive days of temperatures above 43°C and little overnight relief. A report by the Office of the Chief Health Officer concluded that there were 374 additional deaths during the heatwave.
The Victorian Government identified the need to respond to heatwave in their sustainability action statement released in 2006 which committed to a Victorian Heatwave plan involving communities and local government.
In May 2009, the Rural City of Wangaratta entered into a contract with the Department of Human Services to develop and implement a Heatwave Response Plan for the 2009/10 summer.
The Rural City of Wangaratta Heatwave Response Plan (download one below) aims to reduce illness and death during extreme heat events by:
- ensuring health information and support is readily available to the community, vulnerable population groups and their carers
- increasing understanding of heatwave planning and management across council and key external stakeholders
- developing partnerships and collaborative arrangements to better respond to heatwaves
- increasing understanding of heatwaves in communities and increasing their capacity to respond during heatwaves
- improving ability to manage heatwave emergencies
- developing long-term and sustainable behavioural change to minimise the impacts of heatwaves on health and wellbeing.
- The Rural City of Wangaratta Heatwave Response Plan was developed in alignment with the existing municipal planning processes for both emergency management and health and wellbeing planning and will support both the urban and rural communities of the Rural City of Wangaratta in adapting to heatwaves.
The latest 7-day forecasts can be accessed from the Bureau of Meteorology website
Important Heatwave Information
It is important during this heatwave period that care is given to vulnerable population groups, including:
- Older people (over 65 years), particularly those living alone without air conditioning
- Pregnant and nursing mothers
- People physically unwell, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure
- People with a disability
Interventions to reduce the risk of heat related illness during heatwaves include:
- Drink plenty of water and non-alcoholic fluids
- Stay indoors, if possible with air-conditioning, or in the shade
- Take a cool shower or bath
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing
- Reduce physical activity
- Check on older, sick and frail people who may need help coping with the heat
- Never leave anyone in a closed parked car
- Don't rely on fans to cool people unless there is adequate ventilation.
Know the signs and symptoms of excessive heat exposure and know how to respond.
For further information
Heatwave Response Plan (1452 KB)
Map indicating the location of Drinking Water Fountains in Wangaratta City (53 KB)
Department of Health "Heatwave - Important health information for summer" brochure (174 KB)
Department of Health Fact Sheet - Preventing Heat-Related Illness (141 KB)
"Cool public buildings, cool areas and hydration facilities in the Rural City of Wangaratta," please note - restrictions will apply to the availability of public and private buildings, given operating hours and access arrangements. (352 KB)
Last Updated: 15-12-2015