Protective Actions of African Americans during Extreme Heat

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Monday, 3 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Rita F. Jacobs, Howard University, Washington, DC

Burton, Kates, and White (1993) define protective action as “those actions that intentionally or unintentionally reduce risk from extreme events in the natural environment” (p. 328). Sheridan (2006) examined the perceptions and responses to heat warnings across Dayton, Ohio, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Phoenix, Arizona, and Toronto, Canada. Sheridan (2006) reported an oversampling of white Americans within the study although ethnic minorities were also sampled (p. 7). Very little research focusing specifically on the protective actions of African Americans to extreme heat has been conducted.

Increasingly, extreme weather events have become a major concern for the nation. While a great deal of focus has been paid to the impact of the most dramatic events such as hurricanes and tornadoes, extreme heat can have devastating effects on the heath of individuals and the environment. While ongoing, this study examines the cultural and social factors that influence African Americans (and Latino Americans) to take protective actions during extreme heat events. This study employs quantitative and qualitative methods to collect information on African Americans' perception, knowledge of, and reaction to severe weather advisories, warnings, and events. This study also explores how culture and personal experience of severe weather events may impact African Americans' familiarity to severe heat weather advisories and warnings. This study will enrich the existing body of knowledge regarding protective actions of people, with a special focus on African Americans, during extreme weather, especially extreme heat.


Burton, I., Kates, R., and White, GF. 1993. The Environment as Hazard, 2nd edition. New York: Guildford Press.

Sheridan, S. 2006. A survey of public perception and response to heat warnings across four North American cities: an evaluation of municipal effectiveness. Int J Biometerol, 52: 3-15. DOI 10.1007/S00484-006-0059-9