Extreme Heat Perceptions and Responses in the Northeast US

Authors: Christopher Labosier*, Longwood University
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Hazards and Vulnerability, Environmental Perception
Keywords: hazard perception, hazard communication, extreme heat, risk
Session Type: Virtual Lightning Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 28
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

While extreme heat is the leading cause of weather-related fatalities in the United States (US), relatively few studies have examined the risk perceptions and responses among individuals and communities. Additionally, current and future climate change projections suggest that extreme heat events will become more intense, longer duration, and more frequent. The purpose of this study is to identify individuals’ perceptions and responses to extreme heat and associated health impacts in US East Coast metropolitan areas. An online survey distributed by Qualtrics, Inc. to residents of Boston, MA, New York City, NY, Philadelphia, PA, Baltimore, MD, and Washington, D.C. in June of 2017 resulted in a sample size of 410 completed responses. A mixed methods approach demonstrated that individuals felt prepared for extreme heat, but often viewed this hazard as low risk. Qualitative responses suggest that some individuals view extreme heat messaging (i.e. from the National Weather Service) as manipulative and/or the media as sensationalizing the risk for broadcast rating. Results may aid in crafting appropriate warning messages tailored to particular groups.

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