You know it’s hot in Adelaide when photos of people giving water to thirsty koalas start trending on Twitter and Facebook. But it’s more than just the koalas who are at risk during extreme temperatures, which we will see more of as our climate warms.
Red Cross recently partnered with four southern Adelaide councils and the state government to deliver a heatwave symposium called It’s Feeling Hot! Hot! Hot!
Thirteen panellists explored a plausible scenario for 2025 of an extended three week heat wave, followed by severe storms and a bushfire. Panellists, who included representatives from a local school, the SES, Red Cross and the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, explored how the South Australian community would prepare for and respond to such an event.
Over 250 people attended, hearing about the impacts of heatwaves on communities, from increased hospital admissions from heatstroke, to melting roads and the need for heat refuges such as libraries and shopping centres to become pet-friendly.
Red Cross Disaster Resilience Coordinator Michael Arman said the take home message from the event was that we know enough to start taking action to prepare for life in a warmer climate.
“Climate change means that Adelaide’s climate will be more like Port Pirie’s climate by the end of the century, with longer and more frequent heatwaves, and less rain.
"There are many simple things we can all do to adapt to a warmer climate, and support those around us, such as checking in on neighbours and loved ones, and changing what we do in the heat” says Michael.
“The wellbeing of people providing support services is a real consideration – extended extreme heat will takes a toll on us all, and organisations providing services during the heat need to plan for workforce wellbeing, especially as heat events can trigger other emergencies.”