Cooling centres to be established in Sydney’s Inner West as temperatures spike

Cooling centres to be established in Sydney’s Inner West as temperatures spike
Image: Marc Bruxelle, Shutterstock



Cooling centres are to be established in Sydney’s Inner West in preparation for unprecedented heat spikes this summer.

In helping residents prepare for the summer, Inner West Council will identify then publicise a list of cooling centres for each suburb between December 2023 and February 2024.

The motion was brought forward to Council by Councillor Philippa Scott in the last Inner West Council meeting, just as temperatures began to spike.

The cooling centres will be publicly accessible, free, air-conditioned and climate-controlled buildings including shopping centres, Council community centres, and libraries. Advertisement will be amplified on days above 40 degrees Celsius or when Air Quality Indicator is ‘poor’ or ‘worse’.

In the event of a severe or extreme heatwave, the motion also called for the late-night opening of Council building cooling centres.

Air quality will reportedly be a particular concern this summer, as air pollution from bushfires and controlled burning might pass into the cities. Indoor respite will thus be paramount.

Many people are expected to suffer heat-related illnesses, particularly with this upcoming summer. Those who live in substandard housing or without air-conditioning are especially vulnerable, as are people with medical conditions, infants and young children, people over 65, people who work outdoors, pregnant people, those who live alone, and homeless or socially isolated people.

But heat-related illnesses can affect anyone.

Although the NSW Department of Health has provided advice and educational resources online, many of those who need it most are unable or unlikely to access these digital resources. Moreover, the DIY remedies provided may not always be adequate in keeping safe amidst the heat, making cooling centres all the more important.

Earlier this week, Executive Director of Health Protection, Dr Jeremy McAnulty warned that “Hot weather puts a lot of strain on the body, including dehydration, and can make underlying health conditions worse.”

“It is important for people to know the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and take precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones cool,” Dr McAnulty continued.

“If they can, they should also take the time to check on vulnerable and elderly neighbours and family to ensure their safety in the heat.”

Signs to look out for include dizziness, tiredness, irritability, thirst, fainting, muscle pains or cramps, heavy sweating, shallow breathing and vomiting.

Aside from cooling centres, precautions to take in a heat event include:

· Avoiding being outdoors

· Using air-conditioning or electric fans

· Closing doors, windows, blinds and curtains before it gets hot

· Limiting physical activity to early in the morning when it’s coolest

· Staying hydrated by drinking water regularly, before you are thirsty

· Wearing sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat when outdoors



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