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Extreme Heat Events : Bureau Assessment Answer


1. A1. Two definition of heatwave

Heat wave can be defined as climatic conditions that are generally short term, unpredictable and uncomfortable.

The Bureau of meteorology provides a universal definition and it is based on the long term weather analysis that consent the impact of weather instantly preceding the heat wave (Armstrong, 2006).

a) Way the definition differ

On analyzing the two definition it is observed that the first one define heat wave as short term climatic condition and it is unpredictable and uncomfortable while the second promote the long term weather and how it influence the weather before the heat wave sets in (Le et al., 2006).

b) Heat wave definition to be used internationally highlighting merits

The definition provided by Bureau of meteorology (BOM) provides a universal definition and it can be used as the international definition and the merit of the definition is it varies with location as it is related with environment and people exposed to the heat wave (Armstrong, 2006).

c) Consequences of not having an internationally agreed definition

The consequence of not having an internationally agreed definition is both positive and negative. The negative consequence is the global meeting related with heat wave is always confusing with every country following different definition (Villamil et al., 2005). The positive consequence is each country has different environment and the people’s exposure is different so it has to be different.

2. A1. Factors contributing to susceptibility of harm during events of extreme heat

The risk of heat stress is greater among the exposed population like old people and homeless people. There has been an excess death among the people aged 75 years and above in Spain. This is because the capacity of the old people to maintain a normal body temperature reduces because of dehydration during the excessive hot weather which also includes chronic illness and aging, prescribed medication and other social factors (Le et al., 2006). There has been an increased death during heat waves which are common among the elderly. Since the impact of heat waves on public health depends upon the level of exposure, it also affects the homeless people who are directly exposed to the heat. 14 homeless people died in Arizona due to their exposure to heat waves.

A2. Reasons for older people and homeless people to get the priority in public heath

Homeless people are among the heterogeneous group whose health promotion requirements are not sufficiently met. Promoting health among the homeless people should be done in an educative as well as a practical method by taking into account their requirements and providing housing to them. Because of their age, older people are more susceptible to harm due to heat waves and there are also other characteristics which enhances their vulnerability (Villamil et al., 2005). Older people are detrimental to physical impacts like dehydration and the symptoms become worse like respiratory illnesses as well as heart diseases because of the heat waves. Older people may not have the ability to get adapted to high temperatures if they are bed bound or are unable to care for themselves for illnesses like dementia and degenerative illness. Thus comparing with classmates it is evident that older and homeless people needs priority in public health.

3. A1.  Understanding of the urban heat island effect

As the temperatures is rising on average with the growth in the extreme heat days every year it is becoming essential for the cities to identify methods to cool (Canoui et al., 2006). As three quarters of the people in Australia dwell in urban, it is becoming a major health issue to combat urban heat island effect.

A2. Strategy to reduce the urban heat island effect

Cool Houston is a strategy designed by eight countries covering the region of Houston to cool the area to minimize the urban heat island effect that aims at transforming the surface (Canoui et al., 2006). It has 10 year goals and promotes cool paving, tress and roofing and quality of air, water and life.

4. A1. Cause of power failures occurring during a heatwave

The cause of power failures occurring during a heatwave is related with the increase in the demand of electricity suddenly as more people start using air conditioning to avoid mortality resulting from the heatwave. In 2009 heatwave the disruption to electricity supplies was observed in Victoria (Kovats and Hajat , 2008).

A2. Impact of power failure on public health

The impact of power failure on public health is significant as it will be difficult for people to use air conditioning that can help them protect themselves from the heat wave (Kovats and Hajat , 2008). The lack of air conditioning was directly related with the poor urban elderly people impacted by hat stroke.

A3. Minimizing the health impacts when the supply of electricity fails

When the supply of electricity fails then the health impacts can be minimized by improving the ventilation in the house that can protect the people from heatwave. The rooms planned with proper windows can also recue the health impact (Matthies and Menne , 2009).

5. A1. Learning from studying the module

The three point learnt are

  • Heat wave has direct impact on the health condition of people.
  • Heat waves are normally related with other hazards like power failures, fires, water supplies, air pollution and economic loss.
  • Heat wave is a silent killer.

A2. New information helping public health practitioner

There is no debate that the new information will help public health practitioner as it explain the direct and indirect impact of heatwave  and identify the short and long term measures that can be taken by health care provider to reduce the impact of heatwave on public health (Matthies and Menne , 2009).


Armstrong B. Models for the relationship between ambient temperature and daily mortality. Epidemiology. 2006 Nov 1;17(6):624-31.

Canoui-Poitrine F, Cadot E, Spira A. Excess deaths during the August 2003 heat wave in Paris, France. Revue d'épidémiologie et de santé publique. 2006 Apr 30;54(2):127-35.

Kovats RS, Hajat S. Heat stress and public health: a critical review. Annu. Rev. Public Health. 2008 Apr 21;29:41-55.

Le Tertre A, Lefranc A, Eilstein D, Declercq C, Medina S, Blanchard M, Chardon B, Fabre P, Filleul L, Jusot JF, Pascal L. Impact of the 2003 heatwave on all-cause mortality in 9 French cities. Epidemiology. 2006 Jan 1;17(1):75-9.

Matthies F, Menne B. Prevention and management of health hazards related to heatwaves. International Journal of Circumpolar Health. 2009 Feb 1;68(1).

Villamil CI, Díaz PJ, Villacian VG, Sánchez LJ, García SF, Saborido FJ, Iglesias GM. [Health impact of 2003 heat wave at Hospital de Riveira (A Coruna)]. InAnales de medicina interna (Madrid, Spain: 1984) 2005 Jan (Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 15-20).


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