More frequent heatwaves
Australia unprepared for more frequent heatwaves, health and emergency authorities say
Posted on 08.08.2019
As the northern hemisphere sweats its way through deadly temperatures this summer, experts are warning Australia is not prepared to cope with more frequent heatwaves.
Representatives from emergency, health, and urban development services are calling for governments to better equip the country to manage future heatwaves.
They have warned action is needed to prevent risks to infrastructure, business, and the domestic economy, as well as to help protect against avoidable deaths.
This year, parts of Europe have sweltered through record-breaking temperatures, which have disrupted power and transport and put pressure on fire management and health services.
Australia is now being warned it is also not ready to deal with more frequent and severe heatwaves.
Health authorities want to see public education on heatwaves ramped up ahead of the coming summer.
Traditional Aussie heat leading to complacency
Dr Liz Hanna, chairwoman of the World Federation of Public Health Associations’ environmental health working group, said Australia still lacked the education and policy to respond the dangers of heat stress, despite it being one of the nation’s deadliest natural hazards.
She said heat-related deaths in Australia climbed into the thousands every year on average, but little was being done about it.
“Now, that’s more than the road toll,” she said.|
“We’ve got all these campaigns preparing us and helping us prevent becoming a road statistic but, by comparison, we hear very little about how to protect ourselves against heat.”
She said a campaign was needed on multiple media platforms targeting all demographics to help residents prepare against heatwaves and lessen the potential harm.
Australians’ attitude towards heat is also a factor that the group wants to see addressed.
“There’s a prevailing attitude that it’s hot, it’s summer, just get used to it,” she said.
“The thing is, it kills. What we don’t need is people to die, or people to think they’re brave and they’re tough, that they can put up with it, or that they’re being wussy if they sit up and say, ‘I’m actually feeling the heat’.”
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