Getting ready for heatwaves

Last updated 21 Oct, 2020

When it comes to extreme heat, being prepared could save your life.

Heatwaves can affect anyone, even those who are fit and healthy. You can take steps to prepare for the heat and protect yourself, family, neighbours, pets and those at risk such as the elderly, young children, and people with medical conditions.

8 tips to prepare for a heatwave

1. Drink even when you’re not thirsty

Adults should aim to drink 2 to 3 litres of water per day because even when you don't feel thirsty your body may already be dehydrated.

2. Avoid peak heat between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm

Plan your day to avoid the heat by doing out of home activities early or late in the day.

3. Look out for those at greater risk

Be aware of who can help you during a heatwave and who you can help. There is a higher risk during the heat for elderly, young children, visitors not used to the heat, and people with a medical condition. Connect with those around you to plan ahead to support one another.

4. Know the forecast

To better plan ahead, find heatwave warnings on the radio, television and social media and sign up for heat-related alerts from the SES.

5. Dress to deflect the sun

Wear loose light-weight clothing, a hat, sunscreen but also avoid direct sun.

6. Create a cool space

Prepare a cool room to sleep and escape the heat using air conditioning, fans, curtains, blinds. Likewise, cover your car or elements like the steering wheel.

If you don’t have a way to cool your home, visit locations that have air-conditioning such as a community centre or library.

7. Prepare the pantry to last until the heat passes

Stock up on food, water and medicines for people in the house and pets. Be sure pets can access water, shade and a way to cool themselves too. Prepare your emergency kit following guides from emergency professionals.

8. Learn to identify heat stroke and treat heat exhaustion

Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency and can cause a person to collapse or fall unconscious. Signs include no longer sweating, temperature over 40oC, rapid pulse and more.

If a person is experiencing heatstroke, call 000.

Heat exhaustion is a mild to moderate illness caused by water or salt depletion. Signs include muscle cramps, weakness, nausea and more. Learn to treat heat exhaustion here.

If a person experiencing heat exhaustion is unable to drink or, is vomiting or unconscious, call 000.

During and after a heatwave

During a heatwave, heat-related illness may happen slowly over a day or two of very hot weather. Act quickly to avoid serious effects. Tips for during a heatwave.

After a heatwave it is important to keep hydrated and cool even after the heat has passed. Tips for after a heatwave.

For more information on planning for heatwaves visit:

Making time to prepare

Get prepared for heatwaves and other emergencies at free community events this Emergency Preparedness Week (November 4 to 8).