5.6 Heat health risk awareness and responses among vulnerable urban residents: a Phoenix case study

Tuesday, 25 January 2011: 4:30 PM
4C-2 (Washington State Convention Center)
Olga Wilhelmi, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and M. H. Hayden, H. Brenkert-Smith, S. L. Harlan, K. Komatsu, S. Santana, and D. Pauzauskie

Heat waves continue to claim lives of urban residents throughout the world. Changing climate is predicted to increase the intensity and impacts of heat waves prompting the need to develop effective preparedness and adaptation strategies at all levels, from local to national. In Phoenix, where extreme temperatures are a normal part of Arizona summers, state and county public health personnel work diligently to ensure residents are ready and able to deal with the city's extreme heat. Despite having a wide variety of programs and preventative information in place and publicly available, many preventable heat-related deaths and illnesses occur every summer. A pilot project, conducted in 2009 in Phoenix, explored urban societal vulnerability and adaptive capacity to extreme heat in several neighborhoods. Household-level surveys revealed differential vulnerability among the neighborhoods as well as a diverse level of awareness regarding the resources provided by the state, county and city agencies. This presentation will present the results of the extreme heat vulnerability survey that explores linkages between heat health risks and societal awareness and responses to heat among vulnerable urban residents. We will discuss challenges and opportunities in communicating information about extreme heat to diverse urban audiences and highlight a framework for reducing urban vulnerability to heat stress.
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