Are heat warning systems effective?

Toloo, Ghasem (Sam), FitzGerald, Gerard, Aitken, Peter, Verrall, Kenneth, & Tong, Shilu (2013) Are heat warning systems effective? Environmental Health, 12(27).

View at publisher (open access)


Heatwaves are associated with significant health risks particularly among vulnerable groups. To minimize these risks, heat warning systems have been implemented. The question therefore is how effective these systems are in saving lives and reducing heat-related harm. We systematically searched and reviewed 15 studies which examined this. Six studies asserted that fewer people died of excessive heat after the implementation of heat warning systems. Demand for ambulance decreased following the implementation of these systems. One study also estimated the costs of running heat warning systems at US$210,000 compared to the US$468 million benefits of saving 117 lives. The remaining eight studies investigated people?s response to heat warning systems and taking appropriate actions against heat harms. Perceived threat of heat dangers emerged as the main factor related to heeding the warnings and taking proper actions. However, barriers, such as costs of running air-conditioners, were of significant concern, particularly to the poor. The weight of the evidence suggests that heat warning systems are effective in reducing mortality and, potentially, morbidity. However, their effectiveness may be mediated by cognitive, emotive and socio-demographic characteristics. More research is urgently required into the cost-effectiveness of heat warning systems? measures and improving the utilization of the services.

Impact and interest:

14 citations in Scopus
13 citations in Web of Science®
Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

5 since deposited on 11 Apr 2013
5 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 59028
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Heat warning system, Effectiveness, Mortality, Morbidity, Health beliefs, Health service utilization
DOI: 10.1186/1476-069X-12-27
ISSN: 1476-069X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION (160500)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Emergency & Disaster Management
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 the authors
Copyright Statement: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Deposited On: 11 Apr 2013 03:04
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2016 01:55

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page