Sydney is the first city in Australia to establish cooling centres this summer in preparation for extreme heat or heatwaves.
In Australia, extreme heat events are responsible for more deaths than all other natural hazard events combined.
The initiative has been introduced by the Inner West municipality which will make council facilities, such as community centres and libraries, available to residents on days above 40oC.
The council will identify then publicise a list of cooling centres for each suburb between December 2023 and February 2024.
A motion to establish cooling centres was introduced by Leichhardt Councillor Philippa Scott.
“We need to provide safe places for people whose homes lack air-conditioning or are poorly insulated or both,” Scott said.
“To care for our most vulnerable residents it is appropriate that the Inner West Council make arrangements for residents who live in substandard housing, have medical conditions or otherwise need relief during extreme heat.
“Cooling centres are free, publicly accessible air-conditioned buildings open during the day and may include private commercial spaces such as shopping centres.”
Meanwhile, NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant has launched the Beat the Heat campaign spreading information on how to keep healthy in hot weather.
“Extreme heat can cause severe illnesses and can be life threatening,” Dr Chant said.
Climate change has been a major contributor to rising temperatures around the world.