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Summer Planning Toolkit modules

Module 1: Natural disasters and emergencies

Extreme heat and heatwaves

Extreme heat and heatwaves

Heatwaves are defined by a period of three days or more of unusually hot minimum temperatures without cooling temperatures overnight. When it is consistently and unusually hot throughout day and night, heat stress can cause both health and infrastructure issues 1.

Heatwaves have historically contributed to the highest number of deaths due to natural hazards in Australia, with at least 473 heat-related deaths reported to the coroner between 2001 and 2018 2. The risk of dying due to heat increases with age, ‘socio-economic disadvantage, social isolation, geographical remoteness’, disability status, use of certain medications, and the absence of air conditioning or other heat protection 2.

Extreme heat events and their related impacts are expected to intensify as climate change continues to cause increased frequency, duration and severity of summer heatwaves and periods of warmth in the winter, alongside an aging population and urban growth 3.

The RACGP has developed the following resources to help you and your practice team prepare for extreme heat: