, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 43-55
Date: 30 Jan 2007

The social impacts of the heat–health watch/warning system in Phoenix, Arizona: assessing the perceived risk and response of the public

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Abstract

Heat is the leading weather-related killer in the United States. Although previous research suggests that social influences affect human responses to natural disaster warnings, no studies have examined the social impacts of heat or heat warnings on a population. Here, 201 surveys were distributed in Metropolitan Phoenix to determine the social impacts of the heat warning system, or more specifically, to gauge risk perception and warning response. Consistent with previous research, increased risk perception of heat results in increased response to a warning. Different social factors such as sex, race, age, and income all play an important role in determining whether or not people will respond to a warning. In particular, there is a strong sense of perceived risk to the heat among Hispanics which translates to increased response when heat warnings are issued. Based on these findings, suggestions are presented to help improve the Phoenix Heat Warning System.