Cutting Through the Noise: Delivering Lifesaving Social Media Content during the Heat Wave of 2013 (Invited Presentation)

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Tuesday, 4 February 2014: 11:45 AM
Georgia Ballroom 1 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Jacob Wykoff, Earth Networks, Germantown, MD

As one of the leading weather-related killers in the U.S., heat causes hundreds of fatalities each year. By mid-July of 2013, 24 children in the U.S. had already lost their lives after being left in a hot car, according to data from the San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences. Death is not the only consequence; other children are left with serious complications, including permanent brain damage and other serious injuries. To successfully prevent these tragedies, vital and potentially lifesaving communications must be impactful, engaging and memorable in today's entertainment-hungry, social media obsessed world. To bring awareness to the issue, WeatherBug (Earth Networks) meteorologist Jacob Wycoff ran a videotaped experiment – sitting in a closed car without air-conditioning for 30 minutes during the July 2013 heat wave that enveloped a major part of the U.S. Jacob documented just how quickly temperatures rise within a parked vehicle, showing how the human body responds to stifling conditions inside - and WeatherBug used social media as the delivery mechanism to educate and raise public awareness. This presentation will chronicle Wycoff's experiment. Insight will also be provided on what WeatherBug-Earth Networks did to distribute the video which received an overwhelming response through social and other media platforms, including pick-ups by national broadcast media outlets. This project demonstrates the need to cut through the ‘noise' of the social-media world and create and deliver content that is useful and potentially lifesaving.