Heat protection behaviour in the UK: results of an online survey after the 2013 heatwave

Swarna Khare, Shakoor Hajat, Sari Kovats, Carmen E. Lefevre, Wändi Bruine De Bruin, Suraje Dessai, Angie Bone

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Background: The Heatwave Plan for England provides guidance for personal and home protection measures during heatwaves. Although studies in the USA, Australia and Europe have surveyed heat-related behaviours during heatwaves, few have been conducted in the UK. This study assesses personal and housing (at-home) behaviour and housing characteristics of the UK population during the 2013 heatwave. Methods: This paper analyses data from 1497 respondents of an online survey on heat protection measures and behaviour. Participants were asked questions about their behaviour during the 2013 heatwave, the characteristics of their current housing as well as about any negative health outcomes experienced due to the hot weather. We used multinomial logit regression to analyse personal and home heat protection behaviour and logistic regression to analyse characteristics of participants' current home (installed air conditioner, curtains etc.). We stratified the outcomes by age, sex, ethnicity, income, education and regional location. Results: In 2013, for all heat-related illness (except tiredness), a higher proportion of those in the younger age groups reported symptoms compared with those in the older age groups. Women, higher income groups and those with higher education levels were found to be more likely to report always/often taking personal heat protective measures. The elderly were less likely to take some personal and home protective measures but were more likely to live in insulated homes and open windows at night to keep their home cool. Conclusion: Our study has found a high level of awareness of the actions to take during heatwaves in the UK, and has identified important demographic indicators of sections of the UK population that might benefit from additional or more targeted information. The health agencies should attempt to provide better information about heatwaves to those vulnerable (elderly, those at risk living in London, low income earners) or identify any barriers that might be preventing them from undertaking protective behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Article number878
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2015
Externally publishedYes

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