A heatwave is a period of extremely hot weather that could negatively affect human health. Extreme heat can also affect community infrastructure (such as electricity and public transport) and other services. Extreme heat can affect everyone; however some people are more vulnerable.

More people have died during extreme heat than in any natural disaster. In the 2009 Victorian heatwave 374 people died and almost eighty percent of these were over 65 years of age.

Tips for surviving the heat

Here are some tips from the Victorian Government's Better Health website:

Drink plenty of water

  • Keep a full drink bottle with you.
  • Take small sips of water frequently.
  • If your doctor normally limits your fluids, check how much you should drink during hot weather. 

Never leave anyone in a car

  • Never leave kids, adults or pets in cars – the temperature can double in minutes.
  • Visit the Department of Education and Training's Never Leave Kids in Cars for more information on kids in hot cars.

Stay somewhere cool

  • Spend as much time as possible in cool or air-conditioned buildings (shopping centres, libraries, cinemas or community centres). 
  • Keep yourself cool by using wet towels, putting your feet in cool water and taking cool (not cold) showers. 
  • Block out the sun at home during the day by closing curtains and blinds. 
  • Open the windows when there is a cool breeze. 
  • Stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day. 
  • If you must go out, wear a hat and sunscreen and take a bottle of water with you.
  • Dress yourself and those in your care lightly.
  • Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing made from natural fibres like cotton and linen. 
  • Eat smaller meals more often and cold meals such as salads. 
  • Make sure food that needs refrigeration is properly stored. 
  • Avoid intense activity like exercise, renovating and gardening. 
  • Watch or listen to news reports for more information.
  • Don’t forget your pets – a cool bath, wet towel to lie on, a place next to a fan and plenty of fresh water work just as well for animals. 

Plan ahead

  • Keep up to date with weather forecasts – watch the news daily, check the BOM Forecast online and read the current Heat Health Alert.
  • Cancel non-essential outings and plan essential activities for the coolest part of the day.
  • Stock up on food, water and medicines so you don’t have to go out in the heat.
  • Visit your doctor to check if changes are needed to your medicines during extreme heat. 
  • Store medicines safely at the recommended temperature. 
  • Check that your fan or air-conditioner works well. Have your air-conditioner serviced if necessary. 
  • Prepare for power failures - ensure you have a torch, battery-operated radio, fully charged mobile phone or battery back-up, food items that don’t require refrigeration, medications, plenty of drinking water and other essential items. 
  • Look at the things you can do to make your home cooler such as installing window coverings, shade cloths or external blinds on the sides of the house facing the sun.

Check in on others

  • Look after those most at risk in the heat – your neighbour living alone, older people, young children, people with a medical condition and don’t forget your pets.
  • Keep in touch with friends and family who may need help. Call or visit them at least once on any extreme heat day. 
  • Encourage them to drink plenty of water. 
  • Offer to help family, friends and neighbours who are aged over 65 or have an illness by doing shopping or other errands so they can avoid the heat.
  • Take them somewhere cool for the day or have them stay the night if they are unable to stay cool in their home. 
  • If you observe symptoms of heat-related illness, seek medical help.

Important Contacts and Information

In a life threatening emergency call '000'.


Nurse-On-Call is a phone service that provides immediate, expert health advice from a registered nurse, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Call 1300 60 60 24 for the cost of a local call from anywhere in Victoria. (Calls from mobile phones may be charged at a higher rate.)

Red Cross HeatREDi Program - Organise someone to check-in on those you care about

HeatREDi is a Red Cross program that provides daily calls to registered clients during extreme heat events (heatwaves), to check in on their wellbeing and help them cope with the impacts of the heatwave.

The service is designed to ensure vulnerable people are supported during a heatwave by providing them with daily wellbeing check-ins over the phone, as well as advice on coping with extreme heat. These daily phone calls also provide an opportunity to identify early signs of acute heat-stress and activate emergency support if required.

HeatREDi is provided free-of-charge to registered clients.

Sign up by completing the registration form online here. For further information or help to register, please call 0400 113 069.

Better Health Channel

Know the effects of extreme heat, who is at risk and how you can prepare yourself and others.

Better Health website


Subscribe to heat health alerts to receive notifications when temperature thresholds are reached.

Bureau of Meteorology

The latest 7-day forecast can be accessed from the Bureau of Meteorology website.


Access information on staying safe in the sun and current UV ratings.

SunSmart website

Power Outages

Powercor Australia provides information on power outages including current outages, possible causes and handy tips.

Energy Saving Tips

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning have provided energy saving tips

There are many easy and effective things that you can do to save energy and money at home.

Never Leave Kids in Cars

The risk of heatstroke and dehydration is very real. Here's why you should never leave your child in a car:

  • A child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult's.
  • Even on a mild day, the temperature inside a parked car can be 20 to 30 degrees hotter than the temperature outside.
  • When it’s 30 degrees outside, a child could be suffering in up to 60 degree heat.
  • Leaving the windows down has little effect on the inside temperature of the car.
  • Large cars heat up as quickly as smaller cars.

Learn more about the dangers here.

Caring for Animals During Extreme Heat

Managing animals in high temperatures requires good forward planning. Keeping an eye on the weather forecasts, and developing a plan for days of high to extreme temperature is essential in ensuring that your animals will have sufficient shade and water on those very hot days.

Learn more about caring for your animals on the Agriculture Victoria website.

Greater Shepparton Heatwave Plan 2018 - 2021

The Greater Shepparton Heatwave Plan aims to reduce the risk of harm caused by extreme heat and heatwave events within Greater Shepparton.

The plan has four stages, which are: Heat Event Preparation, Heat Event Alert, Heat Event Response and Heat Event Recovery.