Communicating the Health Risks of Extreme Heat Events: Toolkit for Public Health and Emergency Management Officials

Extreme heat events are expected to increase in frequency and severity due to the continued changes to our climate. Health Canada developed a toolkit with strategies to educate communities and decrease health risks related to extreme heat.



This toolkit provides guidance to help develop community-specific heat event health campaigns. The practices for addressing health risks from heat waves are drawn from experiences in Canadian communities and internationally. 



Heat Vulnerable Groups

• Health status – chronic illness, need for medications that increase heat-health risks, dependence on caregiver.

• Income Level – individuals without access to or cannot afford air conditioning and it use during extreme heat events.

• Social Isolation – individuals with limited access to heat health information or services.

• Location of place of work/residence – individuals in occupations with high temperature exposure or those living on higher residential floors without an air conditioner.


Reducing Heat Illnesses and Deaths

• Community Response Plan – Developed for a network of stakeholders with a goal of reducing barriers to action and meeting the needs of the community and especially those who are most heat vulnerable.

• Alert Protocol – Designed to identify extremely hot weather conditions that could result in increased morbidity and mortality in a region.

• Communication Plan – Raises awareness about heat-health impacts and provides advice on how to reduce health risks by educating the audience about protective actions and services and resources that are available.

• Encouraging public participation in planning exercises and using their skills, knowledge and experiences.

• Provide timely warnings about extreme heat events.

• Adapt the awareness campaign and alert system to reach people at risk and encourage them to change their behavior.

• Improve social network interactions by engaging family members, friends, coworkers, and neighbors in heat-health communication campaigns.

Related resources

Related Resources