Evaluating the effectiveness of heat warning systems: systematic review

Heatwaves can have a grave impact on human health and life; the 2003 heatwave in Europe, for instance, resulted in more than 70,000 excess deaths. The need to reduce the harm caused by heatwaves has led to various action plans being implemented that could include, for instance, promoting heat protection information through media, opening cooling shelters etc. Such heat warning systems, however, have not been thoroughly evaluated.

We recently published a systematic review on the effectiveness of heat warning systems, written by Ghasem Toloo , Gerard Fitzgerald,  Peter Aitken, Kenneth Verrall and Shilu Tong.

The focus of the review was twofold: a) on the effectiveness of heat warning systems and their cost-effectiveness and b) on the factors that might influence their effectiveness

The authors did a systematic search of the literature and included 15 studies. They report that the existing evidence supports the effectiveness of heat warning systems in reducing heat-related mortality (and potentially morbidity). There are also indications that certain sections of the community may benefit more from these plans if their needs and perceptions are taken into consideration. Finally, they conclude that further research is needed to establish which measures are more cost-effective.

Are you aware of any heat warning systems implemented in your country? Do you think they are effective?

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