How to prepare your Church for a heatwave this Summer

Posted in Publications

Rev Dr Stephen Robinson (National Disaster Recovery Officer, UCA Assembly) and Wendy Perkins (Coordinator, Disaster and Recovery Ministries SA)

With the first real heatwave of summer hitting us this week, we are reminded of the importance of recognising the potential danger that high temperatures can bring. During this time churches are advised to get serious about working together to help the people in their congregation and their local community to survive Australia’s deadliest natural hazard: heatwaves.

The Uniting Church SA’s call is for churches to understand that heatwaves are a severe threat and to take early action before matters become dire. If congregational leaders are proactive then lives can be saved. Here are some suggestions on what churches and congregational leaders can do to protect the lives of the people around them: 

  1. Gather a list of the most vulnerable people in your congregation and ask your congregation to do the same of their immediate neighbours. This list will include the elderly, people with breathing difficulties - including acute asthma, and infants. Particularly those without air-conditioning.

  2. When there is a forecasted heatwave is on the way, congregational leaders should call the people on their list and ask if they have arrangements in place to keep cool; such as somewhere to go, somewhere to sleep with an air conditioner, etc. Where heatwaves are protracted, the use of air-conditioned church facilities should be considered to be used on hot evenings. It is important to note that just the small act of reaching out could be a life-saver for someone who is silently suffering and ‘not wanting to be a nuisance’.  It gives them an opening to express their need for help.

  3. Ask your church members do the same – contact neighbours on their own list who are likely to be affected, and invite them over for a time, for an evening, or to stay if forecasted relief or other support is not on the way.

Of course congregational leaders need to be aware of the importance of child-safe checks, etc. but for the most part, churches extending support and protection to others during a natural hazard is simply exercising proper pastoral care.

Churches and other faith groups have the potential to bless many thousands of people in, and beyond, their congregation.

For more information and resources around further ways to approach heatwaves, please visit ABC News, SA GOV, SES Rescue, or read the SA Health Extreme Heat Strategy.

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