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Heat Waves and Human Health Mitigation Measures


In hot climate adaptations in lifestyle, physiological acclimatization and ... Promotional and educational material (brochures, video clips, articles, ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Heat Waves and Human Health Mitigation Measures

Heat Waves and Human HealthMitigation Measures
  • Balatonföldvár, 5 September 2003
    Tanja Cegnar

Thermal environment plays an important role in
human health and well being. Extremes in
temperature can cause physiological disturbance
and organ damage, leading to illness and death.
The increase in mortality and morbidity during
hot weather in cities with temperature climate
can be significant. Summer 2003!!!

International agencies (WHO, WMO, UNEP) some
years ago have decided to promote and financially
support Show case projects dealing with the
impact of extreme heat events on human health.
(WMO WHO expert group, WMO TD No. 822, WCASP
42, 98)City selection criteria
  • Over a million inhabitants
  • Irregular heat waves
  • Meteorological and mortality/morbidity data for
    at least 10 years
  • Local interest and implementation capability

  • Budapest
  • Rome (Show case city)
  • Paris
  • Barcelona
  • London

Mitigation measures in ancient Rome? The
seasonal exodus of the rich from cities to the
cleaner and more comfortable environment occurred
also in ancient Rome. During height of the summer
Rome was notorious for its unhealthy conditions.
  • Most casualties among people above 65
  • In hot climate adaptations in lifestyle,
    physiological acclimatization and adoption of
    particular mental approach
  • Cultural and social adjustments, including design
    of houses
  • Individuals with a low adaptive capability suffer
    first and foremost from heat load of any
  • It appears that virtually all causes of death
    increase under stressful weather
  • Individual lifestyle, clothing habits,
    occupational conditions influence exposure levels
  • Heat stress can be aggravated by inappropriate
  • Distinction should be made between the heat
    stress for a population and that for individual

Heat waves present special problems in urban
areas because of the retention of heat by
buildings, if ventilation for cooling at night is
  • Early behavioural signs of prolonged heat
    stress in densely populated areas include
    discomfort, social intolerance, irritability,
    industrial accidents.

What have we learned in Rome?
  • Importance of long set of data
  • Standardisation of data
  • The most difficult part of each project are good
    intervention measures
  • Forecast skills
  • Representative data
  • High standard deviation within oppressive air mass

The most impressive heat wave in Rome beside the
ones in 1983, 1994 and 2003
City structureCustoms/habits
  • Study each particular case, analyse in details
    some of the heat waves in the past
  • Develop predicting algorithms on historical data
  • Choose thresholds, ratio false alarms missed
    heat waves
  • Adapt common intervention strategies to Budapest,
    specific ones to be determined
  • Make the best us of the already existing
    structures and potentials
  • Estimate costs of intervention measures

Prediction algorithms
  • Based on historical data
  • Including only predicted weather elements
  • Prediction skills
  • Input data should be for the same site as
    historical data - if not check represetativnes
    and provide for a statistical correction if

Optional predicting parameters
  • day in the season
  • day in sequence
  • temperature (also minimum!)/ perceived
    temperature or any other measure based on heat
    budget models
  • humidity
  • wind
  • cloudiness
  • sunshine (duration, global radiation)
  • selection based on statistical analysis

Actions to be taken
  • At starting point
  • During heat wave
  • Maintenance
  • Long-term

Before starting study details of
  • climate,
  • available historical data forecasts
  • population,
  • social structure,
  • what is already in place for such purpose,
  • identify the most vulnerable groups,
  • structure of heat island,
  • public health care structure,
  • political perception,
  • state of the art - awareness
  • media - co-operative, interested ?
  • partners?

  • Press conference to present the project,
    intervention measures, communication channels
    (different for different groups)
  • Citys web page on HHWWS
  • Promotional and educational material (brochures,
    video clips, articles, ),
  • Introduction of partners

Media have the power to educate and inform, and
they will play an extremely important role in the
implementation phase of the HHWWS
During heat wave
  • Not only warning, but also recommendation and
  • Warnings/advice via channels media, use health
    and meteorological infrastructure,
  • Structures to be involved police, health
    organisations, volunteers, opening
    air-conditioned halls for everybody,
  • Recommendation about food, drinks, clothing, time
    table activities, ventilation, areas in the city
    and neighbourhood, ...

Special groups
  • Children,
  • Seniors, handicapped,
  • Patients,
  • Homeless people
  • Particular measures for each of these groups,
    different channels of communication, different
  • BUT General discomfort present, everybody could
    take advantage of good piece of advice

Dont forget tourists, sportsmen, heat load in
public transportation vehicles!
US experience
  • Media announcements
  • Buddy system
  • Heat line (free number for advice)
  • Home visits
  • Nursing and personal care boarding
  • halt of utility service suspensions
  • Increased medical emergency stuffing
  • Daytime outreach to the homeless

It is extremely important to give the population
all the necessary information when the heat load
will increase over the threshold and how to
act.The information should be clear concrete
recommendations and advice should be given,
without inducing panics and should reach
everybody in the city, also tourists and
occasional visitors.
Media are the most efficient way to reach the
whole population.
  • Refresh memory at the beginning of the season
    each year
  • Continue with education process
  • Keep media interested - press communications at
    each event,
  • Performance assessment
  • Science articles
  • Efficiency assessment in number of lives and life
  • Cost benefit analysis

Long-term measures
  • Education
  • Rise the awareness
  • City architecture and city structure (green
    areas, air circulation, materials, water bodies,
    energy consumption, take into account
    interactions treesallergies)
  • Keep political interest vivid

Make the best use of knowledge of
urban climatology!
Who is taking the responsibilities?How are they
distributed and co-ordination? Who is able to
implement HHWWS measures?Who is interested in
HHWWS?Who is gaining, who could lose?
Think about future!
  • Extremes are projected to get worse (IPCC)
  • Extremes are expected to be more frequent (WMO)
  • Higher maximum air temperatures and more hot days
    over nearly all land areas are very likely
  • Reduced diurnal temperature range over most land

Impacts (crucial variability, extremes)
  • Initial impact effects
  • Expected adaptation
  • Residual net impacts
  • Depend on
  • Exposure to extreme events
  • Adaptive capacity

Role of nonclimatic factors!We can not change
climate, but we can change our behavioural
patterns, buildings, citys structure,...Danger/
impacts depend on ability to adapt!Tasks
  • Reduce vulnerability
  • Relate to existing management processes
  • Incorporate in citys development initiatives
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