The weather is heating up. And as temperatures rise, so too do risks for potentially serious health and safety issues for ourselves, our families, and the people we support.
The fire season is declared as early as October in some municipalities, and typically remains in place until the fire danger lessens, which could be as late as May.
What to do?
Read your site’s Emergency Management Plan (or Bush Fire Plan) and know what you can do in an emergency to protect the safety and wellbeing of residents and staff. If you are planning outdoor activities or will be travelling on high fire days, check that the areas you are travelling to do not have a bushfire alert.
VMCH monitors emergency situations across Victoria and alerts will be issued to affected areas when needed. You can also stay alert to emergencies affecting your community. Emergency Management Victoria issues emergency warnings if life or property are in danger.
You can access information and monitor conditions online www.emergency.vic.gov.au, download the VicEmergency App, listen to ABC local radio and call the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.
Thunderstorm asthma is a potent mix of pollen and weather conditions that can trigger severe asthma symptoms in many people in a short period of time. It can occur when a storm strikes on a hot and windy day during pollen season (early October to late December) and can cause breathing problems not only in people with asthma, but those with seasonal hay fever.
What to do?
During early summer use preventer medication, such as nasal spray, as prescribed. Follow pollen counts and weather forecasts so you know if a storm is coming. Make sure your written asthma action plan, or that of the person you support, is up-to-date and includes thunderstorm advice. Just before and during storms with wind gusts, get inside a building or car with the windows shut and the air conditioner switched to recirculate/recycled. Ensure people you support who may be at risk remain indoors. For more information, click here.
Periods of extreme heat can have serious impacts on at-risk members of the community including older people, children, and people with other medical conditions. Affects include an inability to regulate body temperature, dehydration, and heat related illness such as an altered mental state, heat stroke, cardiovascular impairment and falls.
What to do?
Evaluate medications. Some prescribed medications can increase the risk of heat-related illness or may be less effective or more toxic when stored at high temperatures. You can stay healthy in the heat by adjusting behaviours (staying indoors with air conditioning), wearing loose fitting clothing, closing blinds and curtains to keep rooms cool and ensuring you are drinking fluids, even when you don’t feel thirsty. If you know of a neighbour or someone out in the community who is at risk and living alone, check in on them occasionally to make sure they are ok. For more information, click here.
Travel (home safety):
It is important to be proactive about keeping your residence and community safe, especially if you are going away for an extended period.
What to do?
Did you know police stations have an ‘absence from residence register’ where you can provide your contact information and the times and dates that you will be away? This information could be used to contact you in case of an incident at your residence or to perform checks in the area. Please note Victoria Police cannot guarantee they will attend your residence during your absence. To register, click here.
Other simple ways to keep your property safe over the holiday period include: not posting your holiday snaps on social media (so people know you are not at home), ensuring all gates, windows and doors are locked upon departure, asking a neighbour to collect your mail and bring your bins in so it appears someone is at home.