THE UNITED NATIONS has issued its first ever guidelines on how to survive a heatwave as 2015 looks on track to surpass 2014 as the hottest year on record globally.
The news comes as new data confirms climate change is driving an increase in the number and intensity of heatwaves across Europe.
Earlier this year, a Climate Council report revealed Australia’s record hot year in 2013 could not have occurred without climate change.
Climate change tripled the odds that the heatwaves of the 2012/2013 summer would be as frequent as they were.
Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said Australia was one of the most vulnerable countries to extreme heat.
“Extreme heat is our most deadly natural hazard, killing more people than any other natural disaster,” she said.
“But we’re seeing something extremely unnatural about extreme heat in Australia and that is hotter, longer and more intense heatwaves being driven by climate change.”
The United Nations guidelines seek to help decision-makers and health services develop early warning systems, similar to those in place for bushfires, to help reduce the effects of hot weather extremes on health.
Ms McKenzie said health services were increasingly grappling with the pressures extreme heat placed on emergency personnel and hospitals.
“During the 2009 summer heatwave in Melbourne, emergency department presentations increased by 26% and ambulance attendances for cardiac arrest more than doubled compared to the same period the previous year,” she said.
“Our focus should be not only on helping health services to prepare but on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by rapidly moving away from coal towards renewable energy.”
The Climate Council is an independent, crowd-funded organisation providing quality information to climate change to the Australian public.
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