Monday, 23 January 2023 15:28

The day after Australia Day is a heat stress killer Featured

It’s always handy to keep cool packs in the fridge or freezer for a hot day. It’s always handy to keep cool packs in the fridge or freezer for a hot day. WSROC

The peak body representing councils in Greater Western Sydney, the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC), is urging Western Sydney residents to prepare for extreme heat over the Australia Day weekend with temperatures forecast to exceed 35°C.

According to coronial reports, January 27 is the most at-risk day in Australia for heat-related deaths.

“Heat kills more Australians than floods, fires and storms combined, with elderly people and very young people most at risk from heat stress,” said WSROC President, Councillor Barry Calvert.

small Hawkesbury Australia Day 26 01 2020 1222The Bureau of Meteorology defines a heatwave as three or more days in a row when both daytime and night-time temperatures are unusually high.

According to the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, between 2000 and 2018 there were 473 deaths reported that were explicitly heat-related, of which 354 occurred during heatwave conditions.

Almost all the 354 deaths occurred during two occasions: the 2009 heatwave that preceded the Black Saturday bushfires, and an extreme heatwave in Victoria and South Australia in 2014.

“In fact, the total number may have been even higher, as heat stress is known to increase the likelihood of other medical episodes such as heart attacks or strokes,” said Councillor Calvert.

“So, it’s important to plan for extreme heat and heatwaves this Australia Day holiday weekend — and prepare our homes and those we love for summer weather.

“It’s especially important to check in with people who belong to at-risk groups such as the elderly, people with chronic health conditions or very young children.”

“WSROC has been working with councils and local health districts to people prepare for heatwave events, including developing a range of ‘Heat Smart’ brochures in English and nine other languages to step households through heatwave planning.”

To download a brochure, Google ‘Heat Smart Western Sydney’ – or go to

Councillor Calvert is especially urging residents follow WSROC’s ‘Heat Preparedness Checklist’:

  • Check the weather regularly: So you can plan ahead and be prepared.
  • Plan cool meals: Such as salads and soup – cooking heats up the home.
  • Plan your cool spots: Decide whether you will stay home or go to a cool place such as a library, shopping centre, or friend’s home during a heat event. If travelling, consider how you will get there and back safely.
  • Plan for others: Think about how you will assist those that require care or support to stay safe. This could include children, family or pets.
  • Talk to others: Know who you can call if help is needed. The start of summer is a great time to get to know your neighbours, check their plans for the holiday period.
  • Prepare a blackout kit: Power outages are common during heatwaves and can affect key services like public transport, water and phone services. Your kit could include a torch and batteries, first aid kit and mobile power pack.
  • Prepare cool packs: It’s always handy to keep cool packs in the fridge or freezer for a hot day.

“From seeking medical advice, to preparing the home, or making plans with friends, family and neighbours we all have a role to play in getting prepared for heatwaves,” said Councillor Calvert.

Why Western Sydney?

Western Sydney is particularly exposed to extreme heat due to local geography and weather patterns, including the prevalence of hot westerly winds and lack of cooling sea breezes.

For further details, go to

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