February 6th marks the eighth anniversary of the Black Saturday bush fires in Victoria, and a time to reflect on how doctors, nurses and psychologists can prepare for the future.
We know climate change is making extreme weather events – bushfires, droughts and heatwaves, storms and floods – more frequent and severe. All of these disasters harm the health of our patients and communities.
Bushfires are devastating, and their impacts and consequences long lasting. As well as causing death, the immediate health risks include radiant heat injuries, dehydration, heat exhaustion, smoke inhalation and trauma. In the aftermath, communities face serious public health issues such as sanitation and water safety, smoke pollution, food insecurity, infection control and access to basic accommodation, healthcare and community services.