It is important to prepare well ahead of a heatwave.

This is especially important if you are more at risk or sensitive to the effects of heat, or if you are caring for someone who is more at risk.

Have a heatwave preparation checklist

A heatwave preparation checklist helps prepare yourself and your home.

Talk to your relatives, neighbours and friends about keeping in contact during a heatwave in case you or they need help.

When creating a heatwave plan consider:

  • who to call if you need help
  • your GP’s advice if you have any medical conditions
  • seeking medical advice from your GP or nearest hospital if you feel unwell
  • where to find your emergency kit in case of a power failure
  • keeping an eye on the weather forecast
  • being prepared for bushfires

Understand your health

Your health can be affected during a heatwave, especially if you have a medical condition or are more at risk to the effects of heat.

Before a heatwave you should:

  • get advice from your GP about whether your medical condition will be affected by extreme heat
  • talk to your GP about how much water you should drink in hot weather, especially if they normally limit your fluids
  • know who to call and make a list of people and telephone numbers

Know your medications

Many prescribed medications can make the risk of heat-related illness worse.

If you are on regular medications, talk to your pharmacist about how your medications could affect your health in the heat.

It is important to remember that medications can become less effective or occassionally toxic when overheated.

Most medications need to be stored at a temperature below 25 degrees Celsius. Talk to your GP if you are unsure about correct storage temperatures.

Prepare your home

Preparing your home for a heatwave helps keep you and your loved ones safe.

To prepare your home for a heatwave:

  • check fridges, freezers, fans and air-conditioners work properly
  • set air conditioning to cool
  • stock up on food for your household and pets, and medicines to last up to a week so you don’t have to go out in a heatwave
  • ensure you have enough drinking water
  • keep cool packs in the fridge or freezer to help you cool down
  • fill spray bottles with cool water to spray on your face and body
  • put together a small emergency kit in case of a power failure – this could include a torch, batteries, candles, matches, a battery-operated radio and a first aid kit
  • check your home can be ventilated with cross breezes without compromising security
  • install, update or adapt curtains or blinds
    • choose curtains with pale linings in rooms that get a lot of sun to help reflect the heat
    • avoid dark reflective curtain linings and metal venetian blinds as they absorb heat and may make rooms hotter
  • shade your windows in the heat of the day especially windows that face west
  • consider external awnings or blinds, shutters, shade cloth or other material to prevent sun shining on the window
  • insulate your house to help it keep cool in summer and warm in winter

It is also important to understand your bushfire risk and how to prepare your home for a bushfire.Bushfires often occur on days of high temperatures and during heatwaves.

Keep track of the weather

Regularly check the weather forecast to monitor the heat.

You can use the Bureau of Meteorology’s Heatwave Service maps which show colour-coded heatwave assessments for the previous days and predict heatwaves about to occur.

If the map shows a heatwave is current in your area, or you are close to a heatwave region, take precautions to reduce your exposure to high heat and follow advice from NSW Health or your GP.


Current as at: Friday 11 December 2020
Contact page owner: Environmental Health