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Community Healthy Health Services Public Health

Extreme Heat Strategy


An exceptional heatwave affected south-eastern Australia during late January and early February 2009. Widespread very hot conditions began to develop in the southeast from 27 January and continued for approximately two weeks. In southern South Australia temperatures widely reached their highest levels since at least 1939.

In the 20th century, heatwaves have caused more deaths in Australia than any other natural hazard. During a heatwave, when temperatures remain abnormally high for an extended period, it can be a high health risk or fatal, particularly among vulnerable population groups such as the elderly, people with a pre-existing medical condition and people with a disability.

With global warming resulting in rising temperatures and common extreme weather circumstances, heatwaves are likely to become more common in Australia.

Key South Australian Government departments, led by the State Emergency Service (SASES), have prepared an Extreme Heat Arrangements Annex to the Extreme Weather Hazard Plan to ensure a coordinated approach to increasing community preparedness, awareness and response to extreme heat events. To complement these arrangements the Local Government Association of South Australia has developed an ‘Extreme Heat Guide for Local Government in South Australia – October 2011'.


The purpose of this strategy is to ensure: residents, consumers, staff, volunteers and contractors have information and guidance in the event of a heatwave; and the risk of heat stress to residents, consumers, staff, volunteers and contractors is minimized through the activation of emergency responses to a heatwave as outlined in this strategy.

This strategy is a ‘living document’ and will be refined and revised as necessary to capture lessons learnt from each extreme weather event. Revisions will also ensure alignment with the State Extreme Heat Arrangements Annex and the Extreme Heat Guide for Local Government in South Australia.

This strategy will be reviewed annually.

Open the Extreme Heat agreement strategy here