Thermal sensations and risk perceptions of extreme heat among outdoor recreation visitors

Authors: Kirsten Goldstein*, Utah State University, Peter Howe, Utah State University
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: Extreme Heat, Surveys, Risk, Perception, Outdoor Recreation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Maryland A, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Hot dry weather poses health risks that may be underestimated by people unfamiliar with their occurrence. Risk perceptions of extreme heat are an important research area because heat is a major global hazard that can cause severe and fatal physical responses in the human body. An increasing number of tourists are visiting national parks in the Southwestern United States, exposing more people to heat-related health risks. However, risk perceptions of extreme heat are not well understood. Even less understood is how risk perceptions vary among populations that do not regularly experience the climate in a specific place, such as tourists and travelers. This investigation focuses on how geographic differences and thermal perceptions are associated with risk perceptions of extreme heat. It is designed to learn more about how people respond to an extremely hot and dry environment and how to communicate about weather conditions more effectively in the future. Preliminary findings show that participants’ estimates of air temperature were strongly correlated with measured air temperature, heat stress index, globe temperature, and wet-bulb globe temperature. On average participants responded that they were more concerned about risks to the health of others due to heat than their own health, and participants who had been in the study area longer than one day tended to be more concerned about the risks of heat. Findings should help further research on risk perception of extreme heat events.

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