Summer forecast

There are predictions of a hot, dry summer ahead and it will impact all of us. Prepare yourself and your family for emergencies.

Footage courtesy of ABC

Footage courtesy of ABC

The Bureau of Meteorology has released a seasonal outlook for summer which shows:

  • Day and night temperatures for most of Australia will be warmer than average
  • Large areas of the country are likely to be drier than average

The combination of warmer and drier conditions can only mean one thing: Bushfires

Maximum temperature outlook – Dec 2018 to Feb 2019

Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook 2018

Maximum temperature outlook – Dec 2018 to Feb 2019

Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook 2018

Heatwaves and hot weather kill more people than any other natural disaster

Australia's biggest killers when it comes to natural disasters are heatwaves and hot weather – they have killed more people than floods, bushfires and cyclones combined.

It's important to know what to do when you or someone else is showing signs of heat stress.

Find more resources here

Check on others in hot conditions

Heatwaves can be dangerous for anyone, but they're especially dangerous for older people, young children and people with a medical condition. When temperatures climb, it’s important to check on the well-being of friends and relatives.

Ray is a Red Cross Emergency Services Volunteer from Adelaide. When one of the people he checks on didn’t answer his daily phone call during a heatwave, Ray went to see if he was okay.

He found the man collapsed on the floor.

“Inside the house it was very hot. Very close. It would have been in the high forties. I’d imagine anyone in his circumstances could have quietly died … it’s really a tragedy that gets very little profile.”

An ambulance was called, the man was hospitalised, and fortunately recovered well.

Need to prepare? We have an app for that

The more prepared you are for emergencies and disasters, the less stressful they become. There are simple and practical steps you can take to protect yourself, the people you love, and the things you value most.

Our Get Prepared app helps you connect with your key support people, accomplish simple tasks to make you and your loved ones safer, and protect the things that matter most to you.

Facing an emergency is never easy, but you’ll feel more prepared, calm and in control if you make a plan, and will recover better.

The Red Cross response to Australia’s disasters

In the past year we have been there to help during 48 disasters, including large scale natural disasters like fires and cyclones. Our Disaster Relief and Recovery work also includes collective trauma events such as the homicides that took place in Melbourne’s Bourke Street or Margaret River in WA.

Our experience shows us that emergencies can happen to anyone at any time, and that when people are better prepared for disasters, they recover quicker.

Living through disaster

Meet the people who have experienced disasters first-hand.

Footage courtesy of ABC

Footage courtesy of ABC

After the cyclone

Marie is a Red Cross Emergency Services volunteer from Murwillumbah in the north-eastern corner of NSW. In 2017 the farming community was hit by Cyclone Debbie. She recalls driving through the area in the days following the cyclone - the flood waters had risen past the 1954 flood marker, there was debris everywhere, trees were strewn across the roads and electricity was out for a few weeks for some.

“It looked like Armageddon.”

In the weeks that followed the cyclone Marie volunteered at the evacuation and recovery centre. She says as a Red Cross emergency services volunteer the most important thing she can do is sit and listen to people that have been through an emergency.

“It’s very important to be calm and welcoming, and to reassure them that someone’s listening and someone cares.”

“People were just coming in, crying, just wanting to have a cup of tea, just to sit down and chat with other people. Yes, there were very sad people, and others were okay…most of the ones that stayed just needed somebody to listen to them, and have a cup of tea and some food.”

It was a very emotional time for Marie.

“It was just so sad, because so many people lost so much, so I was really sad for the community, because you can’t bounce back from something like that straight away. People were stuck in their houses waist-deep in water – I mean, how do you deal with all of that? It’s just awful. People’s animals on farms, trying to save the animals and save all of their equipment…I felt really bad for everybody.”

She said everyone in the community was affected by the cyclone and in particular, the flooding it brought.

“If you weren’t flooded or had anything damaged by the flood, you knew of somebody that did have damage and were severely affected by the flood, so it affected everybody, absolutely everybody.”

She says it also brought out the community spirit.

“Everybody was helping each other and cleaning up…coming around with their brooms and their gloves and all of that, so it was just wonderful to see how they all helped each other.”

From her experience of Cyclone Debbie, Marie says making a Red Cross preparedness plan is a key thing people should do to prepare for an emergency.

“If they have a RediPlan in place, that takes away a lot of the emotional and psychological effects of the flood, because you are prepared. You’ve got your photos on a USB; you’ve done all the things that you’re supposed to do, so that it’s not going to be as traumatic; you’re not going to lose as much as what you would if you weren’t prepared.”

Pauline, bushfire survivor

“The area we live in is very pretty and just driving back into it and seeing everything black; I remember driving home and crying the whole way. It’s the realisation that bushfires do happen to you and can happen to anybody.”

Pauline lives in Kersbrook, South Australia. Her property was seriously damaged in a bushfire.

Linda, multiple disaster survivor

"It’s been long. And I can’t say that I’m still recovered. I still feel addled at times, and think, oh, is it going to happen again? I just… I’m still not sure.”

Linda says for her the worst thing is just how long it can take to get over a disaster.

Linda is retired and lives in Condong, New South Wales. She has been affected by a number of natural disasters.

Sharon, flood survivor

“You feel a bit stupid. You think, ‘I should be able to do it; just cope, just get on with it.’ And 12 months down the track, it all comes back now when you start talking about it. Or sometimes I go to a photo on me phone and just look at it, and sometimes you just burst into tears. It’s devastating to think what you lost.”

Sharon lives in Condong, New South Waves and her home was damaged by major floods.

We can't always avoid disasters but we can definitely prepare for them.