Melbourne is experiencing more hot weather and heat wave events than ever before – all because of climate change.
We currently average 11 days above 35 degrees. Climate modelling shows this will rise to 16 days by 2050. This means more intense heat for longer periods.
The human and environmental impacts of heat episodes are well-documented. Heatwaves and extreme heat kill more people in Australia than all other natural disasters combined.
Heatwaves are a particularly challenging natural disaster – not only because of their increasing frequency, severity and impacts, but also because they are less visible than other disasters.
Which is why we’re pleased Melbourne is the first city in Australasia to join the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Centre’s – City Champions for Heat Action.
Not only that, our Climate Change and City Resilience Co-Directors – Krista Milne and Tiffany Crawford (pictured above with Kathy Baughman McLeod director of the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Centre and Lord Mayor Sally Capp) – have been appointed Co-Chief Heat Officers.
Together they will champion City of Melbourne’s heat-related preparedness, response and recovery actions, unify decision-makers and service providers, and raise awareness in the community.
Melbourne joins the cities of Athens, Santiago, Miami, Monterrey and Freetown in raising awareness, advocating for, and implementing innovative solutions to reduce the risks posed by heatwaves and extreme heat.
Cities with chief heat officers have the potential to reduce the number of lives lost due to extreme heat.
Krista said Melbourne and its environment have felt the impacts of heatwaves and decades of drought.
“Everyone is at risk during a severe heatwave. We have seen blackouts, significant decline in tree health, events interrupted, and business losing revenue,” she said.
“We will focus on improving our communications to support those most vulnerable to heatwaves.”
Tiffany said their aim as chief heat officers was for Melburnians to use the city as a refuge during extreme heat events.
“But we cannot do this alone. Our partnership with Arsht-Rock will bring together experts, governments, and decision-makers to deliver solutions to keep Melbourne cool,” she said.
To achieve our goal and build a heat-safe city, we need to better understand the issues our community faces during an extreme heat event.
We want to know about your heat health priorities and what you do when it’s really hot. This will help direct our actions for future summers, as we play our part to keep residents, workers and visitors cool.
Have your say at Participate Melbourne by 7 April.
Here’s our top tips to help you beat the heat
Keep an eye out for Heat Alerts on our social media channels, set up a ‘watch zone’ on the Vic Emergency app or subscribe to the Department of Health’s heat alerts and be aware of upcoming weather.
Make your home heat-ready by keeping curtains closed during the day, using an air conditioner or fan if you have one and opening windows when it’s cool.
Find a cool place
If your home is too hot, try visiting an air-conditioned shopping centre, library, movie theatre, or jump in the pool at one of our recreation centres.
Drinking water is vital during hot weather. Carry a water bottle with you and refill at one of our 60 hydration stations.
Look after each other
Extreme heat can have severe effects on our most vulnerable, especially older people and young children. Check in regularly with your family, friends and neighbours, never leave children in cars and make sure your pets have plenty of water and a cool place to rest.