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Extreme heat and hot weather

Find out how to prepare for heatwaves and power outages, and access resources in Easy English and languages other than English.

Coping with the heat

  • Keep hydrated – if you are going out, make sure you take a bottle of water with you.
  • Never leave anyone including pets in vehicles – the temperature inside a parked car can double within minutes.
  • Keep cool – spend as much time as possible in air-conditioned buildings, use a fan and wear light and loose clothing.
  • Plan ahead – do your activities in the coolest part of the day and avoid exercising in the heat.
  • Help others – look after those that are most vulnerable to heat, especially the young, the elderly and those with a medical condition.

Prepare for a heatwave

To prepare for a heatwave:

  • stock up on water and non-perishable groceries
  • stock up on medicines and store them safely at the recommended temperature
  • ask your doctor if changes to your medication is needed during extreme heat
  • check that your fan or air conditioner work well
  • make your home cooler by installing window coverings, shade cloths or external blinds
  • plan activities for the coolest part of the day
  • if you must go out, wear a hat and sunscreen and take water 
  • have a torch, a fully charged mobile phone, a battery-operated radio and spare batteries
  • if you have a baby, prepare an emergency feeding kit in case you are without power or clean water.

People at risk

Extreme heat events can affect anybody, however the people most at risk are those who:

  • are over 65, especially those living alone
  • have medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease or mental illness
  • are taking medications which may affect the way the body reacts to heat such as:
    • allergy medicines
    • blood pressure and heart medicines
    • seizure medicines
    • water pills
    • antidepressants or antipsychotics.
  • have problematic alcohol or drug use
  • have a disability
  • have trouble moving around (bedbound or use wheel chairs)
  • are pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers
  • are babies and young children
  • are overweight or obese
  • work or exercise outdoors
  • recently arrived from cooler climates.

Download a heat safety booklet [PDF, 345 KB].

If you are feeling unwell

For 24-hour health advice, call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24 or see your doctor if you are feeling unwell.

Keeping your pets cool

Don’t forget about keeping your pets cool in hot weather. Learn about caring for animals in extreme heat and emergencies.

Power outages

Power outages can occur at any time. For advice on what to do during a power outage, refer to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s guide to power outages.

Eating in extreme weather

Stock up on non-perishable food

  • Download a shopping list [PDF, 3.2 MB] to stock up on food that can be stored for a long time.
  • Buy 1 or 2 extras in your shopping trip to slowly build your supply.
  • Consider foods such as dried or canned beans, nuts, seeds, muesli bars, dried fruits and vegetables, canned fish and chicken, grains such as oats and rice, canned vegetables and fruits, canned and dried soups, and long-life milk.

Preparing meals

  • Eat cold and fresh food first.
  • Download a recipe booklet [PDF, 5.2 MB] to prepare a meal from non-perishable ingredients.
  • If there is a power outage, try no cook recipes, or recipes using a barbeque.
  • Avoid using your oven to keep your house cooler.
  • If you know hot weather is coming, bulk cook meals a few days ahead.

Stay hydrated

  • Keep 2 to 3 large bottles of water in the fridge, and smaller ones that you can take with you.
  • Drink water more often.
  • Limit coffee, alcohol and sugary drinks as these can dehydrate you.

Download an eating in extreme weather booklet [PDF, 4.3 MB].

Feeding babies in the heat

  • If you are breastfeeding, stay hydrated and have a glass of water with each feed.
  • Place a muslin wrap, pillowcase or clean cloth nappy between you and the baby if skin contact is uncomfortable.
  • Place a cool, damp wash cloth in the crook of your arm while feeding.
  • It may be more comfortable to feed lying down.
  • Sponge your baby frequently with lukewarm water or bathe them if their skin is hot to touch.
  • Spray older babies with a fine mist water spray bottle.
  • Breastfeeding and bottle-fed babies don't need water unless they are over 6 years old. They may need smaller feeds more often.

Eating in a power outage

Keep cold and frozen food cold

  • move food from the fridge to the freezer.
  • If available, put bagged ice under food packages and trays stored in freezers.
  • Place insulating blankets over cold or frozen food.
  • Only open fridge or freezer doors when absolutely necessary, as this will keep the food colder for longer.

Only eat food that is safe

  • If food is still cold to touch (less that 5 degrees), it is safe to eat.
  • Raw meat should be cooked and eaten while still cold to touch.
  • Eat hot food within 4 hours of it being heated, otherwise throw it away.
  • If power is restored when frozen food is still frozen solid, it is safe to eat.

Information in Easy English

Download an Easy English booklet [PDF, 4.6 MB] with information on healthy eating in extreme weather.

Information in other languages

If English is your second language, you can download resources on healthy eating in extreme weather in different languages.

More information

Find out more about how to cope and stay safe in extreme heat. This information is available in other languages.

Need help?

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Or call our Customer Services team on 9298 8000.

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