Heatwaves the silent killer – Council can do more!

Street Trees in Berry, NSW

Heatwaves are known as the “silent killer”. Heatwaves are more deadly that all other natural hazards combined including bushfires, floods, cyclones, and storms. The Bureau of Meteorology defines a heatwave as ‘three or more days of high minimum and maximum temperatures that are unusual for that location’.

People who are most at risk include the elderly, those with a disability or pre-existing health conditions, outdoor workers, pregnant women, and young children. This is a big demographic in the Eurobodalla. Heat-related deaths are not often officially identified rather being attributed to the worsening of an underlying chronic illness rather than the actual cause of heat stress.

The urban areas in towns can be sitting ducks for heatwaves. They’re hotter than rural areas, because of the heat stored in roads, buildings and other structures. They have less shading, less evapo-transpiration to cool things down and more waste heat generated by infrastructure and vehicles. This makes our towns vulnerable to prolonged hot weather.

Doctors for the Environment, Australia, have called for urban planning that includes increased tree canopy and awnings in the built environment to keep urban areas cooler.

Kathryn Maxwell, SHASA President said “we wrote to the Eurobodalla Council election candidates and asked them:

If they were elected would they undertake to help our communities be better prepared for heatwaves by

  • Setting up heatwave and bushfire havens in each town to protect the the more vulnerable from extreme weather events.
  • Planting fast growing shade trees and install shade structures in all town centres to protect vulnerable people from summer heat.
  • Facilitating street plantings in urban streets across the Eurobodalla.
  • Encouraging shop owners to have awnings on their shops to provide shade to shoppers and amend council regulations to facilitate this.
  • Strongly enforcing tree preservation protections in urban areas to provide vital street shade as well as habitat for our native birds and animals”.

Candidates from Eurobodalla Labor, the Mayne Group and Eurobodalla Greens responded to the SHASA correspondence and committed to these heatwave management actions if elected on 4 December 2021. The other four groups did not respond to SHASA’s request.

SHASA calls on all candidates to support installing shading of all Council car parks which are huge heat sinks. We already have an example of car park shading at the Plaza in Batemans Bay. In addition, other Councils have installed solar car parks which provide shade and solar energy which, for example, could be used to power EV charging stations.

Media Contact: Kathryn Maxwell 0467 558 645 Kat McCarthy 0431 417 724

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