Extreme weather, bushfire season and your training
Updated: Jan 9, 2020
CN: Discussion of bushfires
Our approach to extreme weather
Our top priority will always be the safety and longevity of everyone at our classes, students and coaches. Our classes will always be structured to be responsive to environmental conditions , and in the hotter months, this may mean moving class to shaded areas, decreasing intensity of the classes, or other practical changes.
This may also mean we may cancel or postpone any class or event if it poses significant risk. Our Extreme Weather policy does not have a ‘magic number’ or specific temperature at which we cancel class. We believe that approach can lead people (coaches and students alike) to ignore risks posed by the intersection of a number of factors (such as heat and humidity, wind conditions or air quality), and to rely too heavily on abstract frameworks rather than embodied experience. As such, class cancellations will always be at the discretion of the coaches.
If we do cancel any class or event, you’ll always be refunded in full, or if you prefer, your booking can be rolled over to the next class. We’ll always make every effort to make you aware of any class cancellations or changes in scheduling 4+ hours ahead of the scheduled start time,. However we have already seen that conditions (particularly air quality) can change very quickly. There may well be instances in which we must cancel classes at very short notice. As such, we recommend including your mobile number in all bookings, so we can contact you if conditions do change.
Our Cancellations policy for students/ participants will be relaxed for the summer months. Usually, we ask for 24 hrs notice for any cancellations from students. Current extreme weather conditions may make this policy a risk factor, especially for lower income folk. As such, any cancellations from students UP TO AND INCLUDING the first 15 mins or so of every class or event, will mean a full refund. We still ask that you let us know if you can’t make it to class, but we won’t impose any ‘penalties’.
We’ve compiled below some advice for training and safety in extreme hot weather conditions. This is intended to be an evolving document, so if you have suggestions for things to add or change, please let us know.
- There is no shame in skipping or postponing training sessions due to environmental factors like heat and air quality. It doesn’t make you less ‘tough’, and it doesn’t mean you’re any less dedicated to your training. Remember, etre et durer, to be and to last. Extreme hot weather is not an obstacle to overcome; it’s a danger to respect.
Avoid training in the hottest parts of the day. Move your training sessions to earlier in the morning or later in the evening.
- Always be sun smart - use sunscreen, wear sunglasses and a hat. Avoid exposing too much skin to sun damage, and seek out shade when you can.
- Stay hydrated. In these conditions, you may need to carry more water than you normally would. Make a mental note of the drinking fountains in or close to your training areas.
- Always make sure you have your phone on you when training. Use it regularly to check for changes in the local conditions, or for any emergent dangers, and to call for help if need be. Download the VicEmergency app, our use the website - http://emergency.vic.gov.au/
- Make sure you know the difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion, and what to do in each case. When out training with others, keep an eye out for these symptoms. If you don’t already, consider carrying an instant ice pack in your first aid kit. As you can see from the graphic below, you should always be carrying water for the treatment of both.
- If you don’t already, consider carrying a ventolin inhaler in your first aid kit. You can buy them over the counter at pharmacies, and they’re quite cheap. This is especially important for people who have a history of asthma, even those who haven’t had an attack in years or decades. But, it’s also very relevant to people who’ve never had an asthma attack. We’ve just got through the worst of the thunderstorm asthma season which saw many people have very serious, and completely, unexpected attacks. And now we are now seeing significant smoke and ash in the air.
The global parkour community has already lost too much to unexpected asthma attacks (#bemorebrian). Please take extra precautions.
(Please note, this is only intended for people intending to train and exercise outdoors. Information regarding fire danger and emergency plans for people who live in high risk area can be found here.)
- Know the fire danger ratings and what they mean.
- If you aim to be out training in bush or rural areas, and even in the suburbs, always make yourself aware of the local fire danger ratings. We recently saw significant grass fires in Bundoora, so don’t assume that urban areas are safe.
- Don’t assume you’re safe in high risk areas just because you can’t see or hear fire. Bushfires can travel and change direction at astonishing speed, and even just the radiant heat from bushfires can be dangerous, or fatal. Ember attacks and spot fires can occur up to 20 kilometres ahead of the fire front. On days of Code Red/ Catastrophic or Extreme Fire Danger, do not travel into higher risk areas, and consider leaving early in the day if you live in those areas.
- Similarly, check on air quality and smoke levels. If the air quality is very poor or hazardous, avoid training in that area. There may well be days when you should avoid training outside at all. In that case, you could go to a local gym, or work on flexibility and mobility indoors.
- If your maximum visibility is 1.5 kilometres or less, your air quality is in the hazardous level, and you need to limit your time outdoors, limit exercise and follow any treatment plans.
- Anyone experiencing wheezing, chest tightness and difficulty breathing should call Triple Zero (000). If you have concerns about your health you should seek medical advice or call Nurse on Call on 1300 606 024.
- If you do go training or running with your dog, be sure to be extra careful in these conditions. Humans have much better endurance than dogs, and when that is combined with the pack behaviour of dogs (as well as the fact they are effectively wearing fur coats), it can lead to much higher risk for your pupper than you realise. Dogs, especially ones who enjoy running with you, may not show obvious signs of distress until it’s too late. Save walks and runs with the doggo for cooler parts of the day.
- Wildlife is at risk in this heat as well. If you have a backyard, be sure to leave containers of water out for wildlife, in a shady spot (add some rocks or sticks for insects too!). If you’re out in public parks and notice any of the bowls provided for dogs near shaded public drinking fountains, make sure they are full too.
- There have been many reports of wildlife collapsing due to heat exhaustion and fatigue. Bats and birds becoming overwhelmed with exhaustion mid-flight, or baby marsupials being so fatigued they lose grip on their mothers’ back. When you’re out and about training, keep an eye out for fallen and heat stressed animals, and make sure you know what to do if you find one.
- This is not normal. These bushfires are not normal. The severity and extent of the fires this year is well outside what anyone has experienced, and our government is doing almost nothing. People are dying, wildlife is dying, the sky is filled with smoke. As such, it absolutely is normal and reasonable for this to have an adverse affect on your mental health and emotional stability. Check in with yourself - are you crying for ‘no reason’? Feeling uncharacteristically lethargic or apathetic? Anxious? If so, consider making an appointment with your GP to discuss mental health treatment plans.
- If you are feeling overwhelmed, consider stepping away from social media temporarily. It won’t solve or change the problem, but it may protect your mental and emotional health for now.
- Talk with your friends. Check in with each other. We love you.