Online Program

Planning for more extreme heat events in Illinois: An evaluation of a heat toolkit

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Elena Grossman, MPH, EOHS, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, Chicago, IL
Samuel Dorevitch, MD, MPH, EOHS, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, Chicago, IL
In the last 20 years, extreme heat events in Illinois have resulted in excessive morbidity and mortality.  The 1995 Chicago heat wave resulted in over 700 deaths for the month of July and thousands of others were treated for heat-related illness in emergency rooms, the 1999 Chicago heat wave lead to at least 80 deaths, and from 1987-2013 there were 8,531 ambient heat-related hospitalizations in Illinois.  Based on the temperature trends, extreme heat events are projected to increase in frequency and intensity.  As part of the CDC’s Climate Ready Cities and States Initiative, the BRACE (Building Resilience Against Climate Effects) Illinois project developed a heat toolkit for the summer of 2014 that was disseminated to the 96 local health departments in Illinois.  The purpose of the toolkit was to build awareness around heat-related illness and to provide easily implementable interventions for local health departments in reducing the burden of heat-related illness.  The toolkit included information about National Weather Service’s heat alerts and suggested advice to issue to the public for each level, a suggestion to assign a “heat-point person” at their local health department, sample press releases, sample social media messages for both Twitter and Facebook, and additional state and federal agency resources.  An evaluation of the toolkit was conducted to better understand the usefulness of the toolkit, how to improve it, and what local health departments do to prevent health problems due to extreme heat.  The evaluation indicated the need for a better distribution method, heat as a relevant health concern varies throughout the State, an interest in maps of cooling centers and more resources, and a strong desire for social media messages.  Based on the evaluation, BRACE-Illinois explored ways to increase the relevancy of heat, modified the toolkit, and disseminated it again prior to the 2015 summer.

Learning Areas:

Administration, management, leadership
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Environmental health sciences
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Describe the content of a heat toolkit designed for local health departments. Describe the process used to evaluate the heat toolkit, and the strengths and limitations of that process. Discuss local health departments’ likes and dislikes of the toolkit and their perspectives of heat as a relevant health concern.

Keyword(s): Environmental Health, Local Public Health Agencies

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I manage the federally funded grant that the University of Illinois at Chicago was awarded to develop a Climate and Health Adaptation Plan for Illinois. I have experience in developing evaluation questionnaires and tools targeting local health departments. Under my capacity as the BRACE Manager, I am responsible for developing and delivering educational materials to the public health workforce.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.