9.1 How do communities respond? Intervention activities to lower heat-related mortality

Thursday, 4 August 2005: 9:30 AM
Diplomat Ballroom (Omni Shoreham Hotel Washington D.C.)
Alan D. Perrin, U.S. EPA, Washington, DC; and J. Samenow

In the United States, extreme hot weather events account for more deaths per year on average than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined. The trends toward a growing older population and a warmer climate both will act to increase the risk posed by extreme heat events in the future. On the other hand, adaptive measures and technologies seem to be lessening the adverse impacts associated with these events. The latter is a trend we want to encourage and, if possible, accelerate.

There are straightforward and cost-effective steps that can be taken at the local level to save lives today and into the future. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NOAA's National Weather Service, and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention are beginning work with local meteorologists, public health officials, and emergency management specialists to produce an excessive heat response guidebook. The guide will provide interested local officials with information on developing and implementing effective excessive heat notification and response programs, along with innovative heat island reduction measures designed to cool the community.

The guidebook will explore intersections between at-risk populations, “best practice” intervention measures, and local agencies, services, and organizations that are commonly in place. This paper will present a preliminary outline for the guidebook, along with those adaptive measures and technologies that seem most promising in the context of community response to excessive heat events.

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