Heatwave fatalities in Australia, 2001–2018: an analysis of coronial records

Lucinda Coates*, Jonathan van Leeuwen, Stuart Browning, Andrew Gissing, Jennifer Bratchell, Ashley Avci

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
49 Downloads (Pure)


Historically, heatwaves are Australia's most destructive natural hazard in terms of loss of life. This study analyses statistics of fatalities associated with heatwaves in Australia from 2001 to 2018 as noted by a Coroner. At least 473 heat-related deaths were reported to a Coroner during the period of research, of which 354 occurred during heatwave conditions and, of these, 244 within buildings. Most indoor heatwave fatalities occurred in older housing stock. There was no overall trend in the number or rate of fatalities but, rather, a record of generally low numbers with periodic excursions into very high numbers. Almost two-thirds (63%) of heatwave fatalities occurred during two severe heatwave years: 2009 and 2014. The record was dominated by male fatalities. The risk of dying in a heatwave increased with age, socio-economic disadvantage, social isolation, geographical remoteness, the presence of disabilities (physical or mental) and some prescribed medications and the absence or non-use of air conditioning or other building heat protection. Other risk factors and behaviours were examined and recommendations to decrease future heatwave deaths suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102671
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Australia
  • coronial records
  • fatality statistics
  • heat-related deaths
  • heatwave
  • risk reduction
  • Heatwave
  • Coronial records
  • Heat-related deaths
  • Fatality statistics
  • Risk reduction


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