Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 Feb 13;11(2):1960-88. doi: 10.3390/ijerph110201960.
Extreme heat events (EHEs) are becoming more intense, more frequent and longer lasting in the 21st century. These events can disproportionately impact the health of low-income, minority, and urban populations. To better understand heat-related intervention strategies used by four U.S. cities, we conducted 73 semi-structured interviews with government and non-governmental organization leaders representing public health, general social services, emergency management, meteorology, and the environmental planning sectors in Detroit, MI; New York City, NY; Philadelphia, PA and Phoenix, AZ-cities selected for their diverse demographics, climates, and climate adaptation strategies. We identified activities these leaders used to reduce the harmful effects of heat for residents in their city, as well as the obstacles they faced and the approaches they used to evaluate these efforts. Local leaders provided a description of how local context (e.g., climate, governance and city structure) impacted heat preparedness. Despite the differences among study cities, political will and resource access were critical to driving heat-health related programming. Upon completion of our interviews, we convened leaders in each city to discuss these findings and their ongoing efforts through day-long workshops. Our findings and the recommendations that emerged from these workshops could inform other local or national efforts towards preventing heat-related morbidity and mortality.