Heat-health warnings in regional Australia: examining public perceptions and responses

Susan Williams, Scott Hanson-Easey, Monika Nitschke, Stuart Howell, John Nairn, Chris Beattie, Graeme Wynwood, Peng Bi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Heatwaves are an increasing environmental hazard and an important public health issue in Australia. Heat-health warnings are being adopted widely to promote protective behaviours, but there has been limited evaluation of public responses. This study used a household telephone survey to examine public attitudes and responses to heat-health warnings in regional areas in two Australian states, South Australia and Victoria. The results indicate a high level of recall of heat-health warnings and awareness about managing extreme heat. Respondents viewed heat-health warnings positively, but the effects on behaviour change were variable. Our findings suggest that the warnings may be reinforcing existing protective behaviours more than promoting change. Perceptions of heat risks were higher among women than men, but lower in older age groups. Evidence of this nature is important to identify ways to improve heat-health warnings and more effectively address the public health risks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-310
Number of pages24
JournalEnvironmental Hazards
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • extreme heat
  • heat-health warnings
  • Heatwave
  • prevention
  • public health

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