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During the warmer months, Melbourne can experience heatwaves and days of extreme heat. Being prepared for extreme weather conditions can reduce heat-related illnesses. 

An individual looking up on a hot and steamy day
What happens during a heatwave?

In Victoria, a heatwave is a period of unusual and uncomfortable hot weather that could negatively affect human health, and community infrastructure (such as the power supply and public transport) and services. (Heat Health Plan for Victoria 2015)

The Bureau of Meteorology's (BoM) Heatwave service for AustraliaOpens in new tab issues heatwave warnings when ten per cent or more of a weather district is forecast to experience a severe or extreme heatwave. The metric for heatwaves is the Excess Heat Factor. It is based on three days of unusually high maximum and minimum temperatures for a location. Heatwaves are categorised into three levels: low-intensity, severe and extreme.

When BoM issues a heatwave warning, this triggers the Department of Health to issue a heat health warning to a number of organisations, including local governments. The CHO may also do this when there are forecasted high temperatures of concern.

When the City of Melbourne receives a heat health warning, this triggers our Heat Health Alert Activation Sub Plan. The plan includes notifying service providers, agencies and established community group organisations that interact with people who may be vulnerable to heat-related illnesses when a heat health alert has been issued. We will also post updates on the City of Melbourne social media channels.

Kathleen Syme Library, narrm ngarrgu Library and Family Services, and Library at The Dock will all remain open until 9pm on days that a heat health alert is issued to provide you with a cool place of respite. See librariesOpens in new tab.

If you would like to personally receive heat health warnings via email from the Department of Health, you can do so by subscribing to receive heat health warning alertsOpens in new tab.

Consider setting up an emergency 'watch zone' for your work or home area on the Vic Emergency websiteOpens in new tab to be notified of emergencies, including extreme heat and heatwaves that occur in your area.

How to deal with heatwaves

During period of extreme heat, it is important to adapt our behaviours to prevent heat stress. Some groups are more vulnerable to stressors, and exposure to extreme heat can cause heat exhaustion, heat stroke and sometimes death.

Top tips for reducing heat stress include:

  • Planning activities for the coolest part of the day or rescheduling for another date.
  • Never leaving children, older people or pets in cars.
  • Eating smaller meals more often, and cold meals such as salad.
  • Dressing for the heat by wearing lightweight clothing and sun protection.
  • Slowing down and avoiding intense activity before, during and after a heatwave, as it can take the body three days to recover.
  • Seeking shade, applying sunscreen and taking regular breaks if outdoors.
  • Drinking cool water regularly, even if you're not thirsty.
  • Avoiding alcohol, as this has a dehydrating effect.

Our Summer Sense fact sheets have practical tips for preparing for and staying safe during extreme heat days:

Summer Sense – top tips to keep cool in the heat:

Practical tips extreme heat days

Heat smart sessions

Throughout summer, the City of Melbourne will be delivering pop-up information sessions in libraries and neighbourhood centres on heat safety. At these sessions, you can also pick up a free heat health kit, containing practical items to help keep our vulnerable community members cool. Keep an eye out on this page for future dates and locations.

Read on for additional tips for keeping yourself and others safe during a heat event.

Look out for each other

Check in on others regularly, particularly those most at risk – your neighbour living alone, older people, people with a disability, young people, people with a medical condition and pregnant or nursing mothers. Visit the Better Health ChannelOpens in new tab for more information.

If you take medication, be sure to store it in a cool environment and follow the storage instructions on the packet. If in doubt, ask your doctor.

Hot weather can also affect your mood and contribute to feelings of loneliness. It is important to stay connected during this time and reach out to your loved ones. For more information on increasing connection in a heatwave visit resources to help youOpens in new tab.

For free, confidential mental health support, contact:

Beyond Blue:1300 22 4636
Lifeline: 13 11 14

Heatwave essentials

To help prepare for a heatwaves and a hot summer season, create a heatwave kit at home by gathering the following essentials: 

  • An adequate amount of water and non-perishable food items that require no cooking or refrigeration to last you three days . 
  • Medication and first aid kit; keep a one-month supply of prescription medications and other medical supplies.  
  • A battery-powered radio, torch and spare batteries  
  • Cooling items (such as battery-operated or handheld fan, ice packs, cooling towels and a spray bottle to help you stay cool).  
  • Emergency contact numbers.  

Protect your pets

Make sure your pets have clean, cool water and shade (if outdoors). You can also:  

  • freeze ice blocks with pet food in it to keep your pets cool  
  • keep your pets indoors where possible  
  • provide wet towels or ice packs for your pets to lie on  
  • put ice cubes into their water bowls.  

Avoid walking on pavement on hot days. If the ground is too hot to rest the back of your hand against, it is too hot for their paws. For both of your health, try to only walk them during the early morning and/or early evening. 

Never leave your pet in a hot car. If you see a pet in a hot car, call 000Opens in new tab 

For more information:  

Staying cool at home

  • You don't need to cool your whole home during high heat. If you have access to an aircon or fan, you can use them in the rooms you spend the most time in.  
  • Keep the windows closed and covered to reduce the heat from sunlight.  
  • If the temperature drops at night, consider leaving your windows open to let cool air in.  
  • Reduce the use of your oven during a heatwave, as they can heat up your home.  
  • Keep yourself cool by using wet towels on your neck, putting your feet in cold water, and taking cool showers.  
  • If your property is too hot to comfortably reside in, seek shelter at a cool place. 

How to stay cool in the city

Our cool places interactive map will help you find where in Melbourne to spend time in on hot days, where our free water fountains are located and where there are trees providing shade.

Community centres 

  • Boyd Community Hub, Southbank 
  • Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre 
  • North Melbourne Community Centre, North Melbourne 
  • Kensington Neighbourhood House, Kensington 
  • North and West Melbourne Neighbourhood Centres 
  • North Melbourne Language and Learning Centre 


  • City Library, CBD 
  • East Melbourne Library, East Melbourne 
  • Kathleen Syme Library, Carlton 
  • narrm ngarrgu Library and Family Services, CBD  
  • North Melbourne Library, North Melbourne 
  • Southbank Library, Boyd Community Hub, Southbank 
  • State Library, CBD  

Recreation centres and pools 

  • Carlton Baths, Carlton 
  • Kensington Recreation Centre, Kensington (temporary closed and currently under redevelopment scheduled to open in 2025)   
  • Melbourne City Baths, CBD 
  • North Melbourne Recreation Centre, North Melbourne  


  • Chinatown cinema, CBD 
  • Cinema Nova, Carlton 
  • Hoyts Cinema, Melbourne Central, CBD 
  • Palace Kino Cinema, CBD 
  • Midcity Arcade Cinema, CBD 
  • IMAX, Melbourne Museum, Carlton 
  • Village Cinemas, Crown Casino, Southbank 

Parks and gardens 

  • Alexandra Gardens, CBD 
  • Carlton Gardens North, Carlton 
  • Fitzroy Gardens, East Melbourne 
  • Flagstaff Gardens, West Melbourne 
  • Kings Domain, South Yarra 
  • Princes Park, Carlton 
  • Riverslide Skate Park, CBD 
  • Royal Park, Parkville 
  • South Fawkner Park, South Yarra  

Public galleries 

  • ACMI, Federation Square, CBD 
  • City Gallery, Melbourne Town Hall, CBD 
  • Ian Potter Museum of Art, Federation Square, Central City 
  • Melbourne Museum, Carlton 
  • National Gallery of Victoria, Southbank 
  • Science Gallery Melbourne, Parkville  

Shopping centres and food courts 

  • Collins Place, CBD 
  • Crown Casino, Southbank 
  • DFO South Wharf, South Wharf 
  • Emporium Melbourne, CBD 
  • 39 Galleria Shopping Plaza, CBD 
  • Lygon Court, Carlton 
  • Melbourne Central, CBD 
  • QV Retail, CBD 
  • Southgate, Southbank 
  • Spencer Outlet Centre, CBD 
  • St Collins Lane, CBD 

Travellers Aid 

  • Travellers Aid Flinders Street Station Office, CBD 
  • Travellers Aid Southern Cross Station, CBD 
  • Visitor centres 
  • Fitzroy Gardens Visitor Centre, East Melbourne 

Housing and support 

  • Youth Projects (CBD) 
  • Housing First (Parkville)  
  • Cohealth (Kensington, CBD) 

Cool places information

Download this useful information or print it out and give one to someone who may be vulnerable to extreme heat events.

Drinking fountains

Drinking water is vital during hot weather. There are many free bubbler drinking fountains as well as more than 60 drinking fountains fitted with water bottle refill taps across the city, as part of a joint initiative between VicHealth and the City of Melbourne. Check our interactive drinking fountains mapOpens in new tab or visit Choose TapOpens in new tab to find the nearest water station when you are out and about.

Cool routes

Cool RoutesOpens in new tab is an online mapping tool you can use on your smartphone to plot the coolest route to your destination in the CBD, Southbank and City North. It considers the time of day, city architecture and surroundings to give the best walking or cycling route protected from the sun and heat.

Heatwaves and homelessness

Since 2013, the City of Melbourne has implemented a Heatwave and Homelessness Program to provide highly vulnerable people living in the municipality heat respite options. The program runs from 1 December to help mitigate the effects of extreme heat on people who are experiencing homelessness.

The Heat Lab

The City of Melbourne received funding from Emergency Management Victoria to run ‘The Heat Lab’. This twelve-month project will trial community-focused and place-based initiatives to address heat risk over the 2023-2024 summer period.

These include:

  • Running heat safety sessions to raise awareness of the risks posed by extreme heat
  • Providing ‘cool places’ at libraries and community organisations for people to seek respite during heatwaves
  • Boosting shading and cooling in public space
  • Distributing ‘heat health kits’ containing personal cooling equipment and resources
  • Creatively boosting public engagement with heat risk through artistic programming in partnership with the Sticky Institute, KINGS Artist-Run, and the Melbourne Women in Film Festival.

This pilot was developed through combining council, business, public health and community leader expertise. At the end of the project, The Heat Lab will undergo a full evaluation and the findings will be shared with other councils. Successful outcomes will also inform the expansion of City of Melbourne heat projects and programs in future.

Measuring and combating rising temperatures in the city

In partnership with the Atlantic Council's Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience CenterOpens in new tab (Arsht-Rock) the City of Melbourne has appointed Co-Directors Climate Change and City Resilience, Tiffany Crawford and Krista Milne, to the roles of Chief Heat Officers.

Established through Arsht-Rock's City Champions for Heat Action initiative, the position will raise awareness about extreme heat risk, provide local leadership and collaborate to deliver solutions.

You can learn more about the Chief Heat Officers.Opens in new tab

The City of Melbourne is also partnering with Climasens – a leading Melbourne-based climate intelligence startup – to test a heat risk platform, which maps heat hazards and aims to boost the city’s climate resilience.

The new technology uses live weather and climate data to identify real-time heat risk insights, including heat exposure and social vulnerability. The trial aims to develop a solution to heat monitoring and management, helping us protect those who are most vulnerable during a heatwave, and provide evidence to improve climate resilience planning and investment decisions.

For more information, visit ClimasensOpens in new tab

More information

our acknowledgement

  • Torres Strait Islander Flag
  • Aboriginal People Flag

The City of Melbourne respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land we govern, the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung and Bunurong / Boon Wurrung peoples of the Kulin and pays respect to their Elders past and present. 


We acknowledge and honour the unbroken spiritual, cultural and political connection they have maintained to this unique place for more than 2000 generations.

We accept the invitation in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and are committed to walking together to build a better future.