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Managing excessive heat in schools

During very hot and extreme heat conditions, students, staff and the school community are at greater risk of health problems. These can be specific heat-related illnesses or a worsening of existing medical conditions. Health risks are greater when high temperatures combine with increased humidity.

Do schools remain open?

Yes. Unless the Principal or Regional Director determines that the school must temporarily close due to a disaster or emergency situation, Queensland state schools remain open and students are not sent home during periods of excessive heat or heatwave conditions. Staff manage risks associated with excessive heat at schools through a variety of strategies.

What is a heatwave?

Heatwave conditions are specifically when excessively high temperatures combine with high humidity levels and are sustained over a number of days. That means, although the predicted maximum temperature for a region may be in the mid-to-high 30s, unless this coincides with high humidity and lasts for a few days, it is considered 'hot' rather than a 'heatwave'.

People are most at risk during extreme heat conditions when the temperatures reach about 5 degrees Celsius above the average for sustained periods of time.

The Bureau of Meteorology provides a Heatwave Service for Australia External Link with heatwave forecasts and heatwave assessments. This service is a set of maps showing colour-coded heatwave severity for the previous two three-day periods, and the next five three-day periods.

What are heat-related conditions?

Heat-related conditions cover a wide range of symptoms ranging from swelling of hands and feet, prickly heat occurring in acclimatised people and heat cramps, through to heat exhaustion, to the more severe and potentially fatal heat stroke.

Further information is available from the Queensland Government website External Link.

Are animals are affected by heatwaves?

Yes. Animals can also be affected by heat-related illness. Animals in the care of a school should be monitored and sufficient food, water and shelter provided to safeguard their welfare.

Strategies

Heat management planning:

Managing schools during excessive heat or heatwave conditions:

For further information, refer to the Managing excessive heat in schools Microsoft® Word document413K guidelines.

Playing and exercising safely in hot weather

Factors to consider when cancelling or postponing a sporting event include but are not limited to:

If the ambient temperature is between 31 and 35 degrees Celsius and the relative humidity is over 50 per cent there is a high to very high risk of heat illness. Planned vigorous, sustained physical activity should be limited in intensity or duration to less than 60 minutes per session.

If the ambient temperature is over 36 degrees Celsius and the relative humidity is over 30 per cent, there is an extreme risk of heat illness. Planned vigorous, sustained physical activity should be postponed to a cooler part of the day or even cancelled.

Refer to the Sports Medicine Australia Hot Weather Guidelines External Link.

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This page was last reviewed on 20 Oct 2017 at 03:23PM

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