Friday, 15 September 2023 15:27

Get ‘Heat Smart’— Eight tips to beat the summer sizzle! Featured

The peak body representing councils in Western Sydney, the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC), is urging Western Sydney residents to plan ahead for extreme heat and heatwaves in the lead-up to this year’s summer.

“Heat kills more Australians than floods, fires and storms combined,” said WSROC President, Councillor Barry Calvert. “And indications are that this summer may be hotter than most.”

“Don’t kid yourself that being young and fit means you are safe from extreme heat events.

“Elderly people and very young people are especially at risk from heat stress — however everyone is susceptible to extreme temperatures.

“It’s important to plan for extreme heat and heatwaves — and prepare our homes and those we love for summer weather.

“For at-risk groups such as the elderly, people with chronic health conditions or very young children, talk to your doctor about what extra precautions you should take.”1309 WSROC Social Media Tiles 4A 13

Councillor Calvert especially urges residents to follow WSROC’s eight-step ‘Start of Summer Checklist’:

  • Talk to your doctor: Ask your doctor about how heat may affect your risk. Heat can worsen existing health conditions, while some medicines can affect our ability to cope with heat.
  • Check cooling works: This includes fridges, fans and air-conditioners. Don’t wait until the middle of summer. Getting your air-conditioner serviced at the start of summer will ensure it is working efficiently when you need it most.
  • Shade windows and walls: One of the most effective ways to prevent the home from heating up is shading walls from the hot sun. For those who rent, this can be as simple as hanging shade cloth. Internal window coverings like curtains also make a big difference.
  • 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 who require 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, and 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 and water: 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.

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

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.

The region experiences increasingly warm weather, and it is predicted that the number of hot days (30°C or higher) in Western Sydney will increase significantly.

Extreme Heat Facts

“Except for disease epidemics, extreme heat events are Australia’s worst natural hazard for human deaths,” said Councillor Calvert.

“Between 2001 to 2018 in Australia, at least 473 heat-related deaths were reported to a coroner, of which 354 occurred during heatwave conditions, according to a 2022 study reported in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction.”

“During severe heatwaves, people in Greater Sydney have experienced as much as a 13% increase in mortality (excess deaths) overall.

“Older people are at especially high risk for heat-related deaths and several independent studies reveal that older women are even more impacted by extreme heat.

“Studies at Western Sydney hospitals found that even fit, healthy people were more likely to present at emergency departments during heatwaves – due to circumstances such as exercising in the heat.

“More than half of workers who die of heat stress do so during the first week of starting a new job, according to three recent studies of work-related heat illness.

“Heat is also placing significant strain on household budgets, community services, and essential infrastructure — including energy grids, hospitals and transport networks.”

For further details, go to this link.

Last modified on Friday, 15 September 2023 15:39

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