Approaches for Building Community Resilience to Extreme Heat

  • Peter Berry
  • Gregory R. A. Richardson
Part of the Extreme Weather and Society book series (EWS)


Climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme heat events; observations already confirm this trend in many parts of the world. Extreme heat results in significant increases in morbidity and mortality when individuals and communities are not prepared for it. Vulnerability to the health impacts of extreme heat depends on a number of important individual and community level factors. This chapter presents current knowledge for supporting the development of Heat Alert and Response Systems (HARS) which alert the public and community stakeholders to dangerously hot conditions so that protective measures can be taken that reduce health impacts, particularly on the most vulnerable in society such as older adults, infants and young children, people with chronic illness, and the socially disadvantaged. Information about temperature-mortality associations provide an evidence-based foundation for developing effective measures to protect health. Effective HARS also require engagement with a broad range of community stakeholders to address key vulnerability factors (e.g. role of space and place and socio-economic challenges) and include preventative urban design measures that reduce local heat exposures before they occur. The chapter provides cases studies of Health Canada’s collaboration with partners at the provincial and community level aimed at increasing understanding of heat-health impacts, building the capacity to manage growing risks due to climate change and expanding HARS to at risk communities.


Extreme heat events Heat Alert and Response Systems Heat illness Urban heat island Climate change adaptation 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Climate Change and Health OfficeHealth CanadaOttawaCanada

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