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Hot and Extreme Weather Policy

[Draft - to be adopted]

What happens if there is a hot day or a Total Fire Ban predicted?

SGWAAC Policy:

The Activity Co-Ordinator is to use MetEye ( to determine the predicted maximum forecast temperature for a given activity at the designated location. If the maximum forecast temperature is in excess of 32 degrees the activity is to be cancelled or rescheduled at the discretion of the event leader.

Participation in an event is at the discretion of the event leader, based on Risk Management analysis taking into consideration level of skill, experience and weather conditions.  An event leader has the right to decline a member’s participation where there is a perceived/considered risk to themselves or the event group.  Such actions are made in consultation with the SGWAAC Activities Coordinator

 All SGWAAC activities should avoid forest areas when a Total Fire Ban is declared, and should be cancelled on days declared Extreme or Code Red. On other occasions, check the Vic Emergency App and with the local fire authority that there are no bush fires or hazard reduction burns in the area you are planning your activity. 

 Extreme Heat

Physical activity in hot and humid weather interferes with the normal body cooling process of evaporation from the lungs and skin and may lead to heat exhaustion. If this state is not recognized and treated promptly it may progress to the more serious and potentially fatal condition of heat stroke in which the body temperature rises due to failure of the heat-regulating centre in the brain.


  • When undertaking physical activity in hot weather, drink plenty of water
  • Avoid activity in the hottest part of the day by planning to rise early, take a midday siesta or reduce the distance to be covered during the day
  • Plan mid-summer trips near watercourses and do not overextend the party
  • Wear a hat and avoid sunburn
  • Drink plenty of water before commencing the day's activity


Early symptoms are thirst, muscle cramps, and weakness, headache, feeling hot, faint, giddy and nauseous. The victim develops rapid pulse and breathing accompanied by excessive sweating. As the dehydration becomes more severe, the skin becomes hot and dry, with headache, nausea, vomiting and mental disturbance common prior to collapse and unconsciousness.


  • Assist the victim to rest in a cool and shaded area.
  • Remove unnecessary clothing, sponge with cool water and fan the victim.
  • Give frequent cool drinks.
  • Gently stretch any cramped muscles.
  • In extreme cases immerse the victim in water or if this is not possible, cover with a wet sheet or tent.
  • Where Heat Exhaustion has developed into Heat Stroke, the condition is potentially fatal, and the first aider must act urgently to call emergency services.

Extreme Cold

The gradual onset of the effect of exposure to extreme cold may be overlooked in the early stages. When the body loses heat faster than it can create it and the core temperature is lowered, the condition is known as hypothermia. It is responsible for several deaths each year in Australia.


  • Carry and wear suitable clothing to ensure you always have adequate protection from the cold particularly when combined with wet and windy conditions (ref clothing)
  • Ensure a regular intake of food (high calorie) and drink. Do not drink alcohol which accelerates heat loss.
  • On overnight activities/multiday events, be self-sufficient and do not rely on reaching your destination. Prior to departure notify the Activities Co-ordinator of any contingency plans.
  • Avoid physical exhaustion by undertaking activities within your party's capabilities.
  • Take particular care when activities involve more susceptible people, such as young children, slightly built, weak or less fit individuals.
  • Take into account that long stops or immobilisation due to injury increase susceptibility.
  • Be aware of the early signs of hypothermia.


The early warning signs of tiredness, shivering and lagging behind and stumbling are a signal to assess the situation and take preventative action with respect to clothing, food, drink and rest. Difficulty unwrapping a sweet such as a barley sugar is a simple test for loss of usual co-ordination.

As body temperature continues to fall, mental and physical performance declines rapidly, often unbeknown to the victim. The danger signs requiring prompt action to prevent a potential fatality are uncontrollable shivering or cessation of shivering, pain in the limbs, unusual or irrational behaviour, poor judgment, apathy, lack of coordination, exhaustion, confusion, hallucinations, slurred speech, and blurred vision. The victim will feel cold to touch and is usually pale. Untreated they will collapse, pass into a stupor, unconsciousness, and death.


The basic principles of first aid and resuscitation apply, in addition to the following measures to prevent further body cooling.

  • Protect the victim from the cold environment by finding a nearby or improvised shelter from the wind and the wet, and insulating the body from the ground.
  • Put on extra layers of clothing and a thermal blanket or sleeping bag if available, remembering to cover the head.
  • Enclose in a waterproof layer, such as a large plastic garbage bag pack liner, bivvy bag, ground sheet or safety blanket.
  • Huddle together to warm the victim by body heat from other party members.
  • DO NOT attempt to restore body heat by massage, warming beside a fire or hot water bottles. External heating that is too rapid may actually cause the core temperature of the victim to drop.
  • Give warm sweet drinks and easily digestible food if conscious.DO NOT give victim alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, tea or hot drinks.
  • Ensure other party members are adequately clothed and not in similar danger.

Flooded Rivers


Consider changing your route before setting out on a trip involving river crossings where there has been heavy rain in catchment areas. Check with local authorities if there is a possibility that bridges may have been damaged by flood waters.


Do not enter flood waters or attempt to cross a dangerous river.

Be prepared to spend time and energy looking for a safe crossing place. Be aware of possible dangers downstream if someone were swept away whilst crossing. Be prepared to wait for a swollen river to subside, or more realistically, use an alternative route.

 Electrical Storms


Check weather conditions with before commencing your activity; Wherever possible, do not go out when thunderstorms are predicted. If thunderstorms are predicted during a planned Kayaking activity, the event will be rescheduled or cancelled.


Avoid high ground, isolated objects such as a tree in a clearing, overhanging cliffs or caves. If possible, insulate yourself from the ground by sitting on your pack/paddle float. Members of a party may sit together but should not be in contact.