Weather events and your health

Australians are no strangers to extreme weather events, and a changing climate has made those events more frequent. It’s important to look out for your health and safety before, during and after these events.

Heatwaves

Heatwaves are extreme heat events that last several days and can have a serious impact on health, particularly for babies and young children, the elderly and those with certain existing medical conditions.

Climate projections show extreme heat events are occurring more often and with greater intensity, so it is important to be prepared for the unexpected.

The NSW Health Beat the Heat webpages have a range of information and advice on preparing for a heatwave.

Find out more about:

Bushfires and smoke

Bushfires

Bushfires are type of wildfire that burn through wild vegetation like woodland, scrubland, or grassland. These fires are unpredictable and difficult to control and are common during hot, dry weather.

In the event of a bushfire, you can use the NSW Rural Fire Service ‘Fires Near Me’ webpage or ‘Fires Near Me’ mobile app to understand risks in your area.

Create your own bushfire emergency plan using the How fireproof is your plan? webpage.

Access this bushfire recovery assistance resource for practical support regarding accommodation, financial support, animal welfare and more.

Bushfire smoke

Even if you are not directly affected by the bushfires, it is important to reduce your risk of prolonged exposure to smoke inhalation. Individuals with existing medical conditions such as heart or lung problems, those over the age of 65, children under 14, pregnant women and those living with diabetes are most at risk from health complications caused by smoke.

For more information on how to protect yourself and others from bushfire smoke visit the NSW Health Bushfire Protection webpage.

Monitor the quality of the air using the NSW Planning, Industry & Environment website or mobile app, which is updated hourly.

Floods

The State Emergency Service (SES) is responsible for responding to floods and storms in NSW. The SES website has more information about what to do if there is a flood warning.

Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) has information about road closures due to floods. Ring 132 701 for the 24 hour traffic enquiry line.

If you need emergency assistance in a flood or storm, call the State Emergency Service (SES) on 132 500.

For more information on:

  • What to do following a flood warning
  • Personal safety and hygiene during a flood
  • Drinking water
  • Mosquito control

Please visit NSW Health Storms and Floods webpage.

Your emergency plan

The best way to protect yourself, your family and home in an emergency is to plan ahead of time and be organised.

Here are some things you can do to prepare for an emergency

  • Prearrange meeting places with your family and friends, both inside and outside your neighbourhood, in case you are unable to get home. This planning will help to reduce the likelihood of separation from family and friends.
  • Store important documents such as passports, wills, drivers’ licenses, birth and marriage certificates, immigration, and insurance documents in a safe place other than your home.
  • If forced to leave your home, make sure your family’s essentials are ready and packed so you can escape quickly. Don’t forget items such as prescriptions, medication, torches and spare batteries and warm clothing, as well as enough food and water.

You can create your emergency plan for you and your family using the Red Cross Rediplan.

Medication storage in extreme weather

Many prescribed medications can become less effective or occasionally toxic when stored in the heat and can make the risk of heat-related illness worse.

Most medications need storing below 25°C (discuss with a pharmacist if your are unsure about correct storage temperatures).

A list of medications that can affect a person during hot weather is available on the NSW Beat the Heat website. Any person on regular medication should visit their GP to discuss how their medications could affect their health in the heat.

If your medicines have been affected by floor water please visit the ‘Medications’ sections of the NSW Health Storms and Floods page.