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Thea Kindschuh

Scenario Responses for Heat Watch Campaign Organizers

Like preparing for climate change,being adaptive is essential for a successful community heat-mapping campaign. What is the appropriate action that you, the local org anizer of a Heat Watch campaign, can take in response to unexpected weather and other events? Based on our experience with former campaign cities, we offer the following advice on five of the most common scenarios that can occur during a Heat Watch campaigns.

In case of any unexpected events,detailed note taking and communication with the CAPA team is especially helpful in understanding, tracking, and addressing campaign issues. Please be sure to reach out to us in the event of any unexpected event -- our Heat Watch team stands ready to support you before, during, and after these campaigns. 


e.g. rains fall before the campaign date.

Within any polygon of the campaign area, if any amount of rain occurs in the first 30 minutes of a specific hour of data collection, the participant should stop and communicate details to their campaign organizer. If rain occurs in more than one polygon, organizers should reschedule the traverse to another day with more favorable conditions. Similarly, if there is heavy rain in the hours leading up to a traverse, causing more than one polygon to cool off significantly, the organizer should also reschedule this traverse period. In general, the CAPA team needs only about 30 minutes worth of data collection at the beginning of each hour, though only under favorable conditions (i.e. clear skies, no precipitation). 

Low temperatures

e.g. the anticipated high on a campaign day falls below 85°F.

If temperatures fall below expected levels and the threshold for an adequate campaign (typically 90°F), organizers should work with CAPA and campaign participants to reschedule the event for another day in the near future. Several resources available to help with predictions include outlooks from the Weather Prediction Center and forecasts from the National Weather Service

Equipment malfunction

e.g. data collection equipment stops working as expected for any reason.

While all the equipment will be tested for proper function prior to shipping to local organizers, volunteer and/or local organizer(s) will want to inspect equipment upon arrival. If equipment does not turn on (i.e. the green light is not visible), first try charging the equipment with the micro-usb cable and adapter -- available with a car’s cigarette lighter and wall plug. If the light is still not visible after charging for 15 minutes, the participant should notify the local organizer. If time allows, CAPA can send replacement equipment. Regardless, local organizer(s) should record and report the incident immediately to CAPA. 

Equipment damage

e.g. local organizer or volunteer break equipment

In the case of a hardware issue, such as the equipment being damaged from a fall (with a green light indicating the equipment may still be otherwise functioning), volunteers will first need to contact the local organizer, who will then engage CAPA staff. CAPA staff can discern whether the equipment is usable and/or if a makeshift repair is possible. If time allows, CAPA can send replacement equipment. Regardless, local organizer(s) should record and report the incident immediately to CAPA. 

Vehicle accidents

e.g. a participant’s car gets a flat tire mid-way through their morning route.

Accidents on the road can happen, and the safety of Heat Watch participants is of highest priority during all campaign activities. The person involved in the accident must first address any road emergencies, and then contact campaign organizers about an incident. If an incident occurs during the morning or afternoon traverse, organizers can work to facilitate the completion of the remaining route(s) by backup data-collection teams.

Participant no-show

e.g. a participant does not complete their route in the morning, afternoon, and/or evening as scheduled.

If a participant fails to complete a data collection route, the data for that area will not be available, and therefore unusable in the final analysis. If possible, the local organizer(s) can check with other volunteers to assess the likelihood that a portion of their designated areas can include the area missed by the ‘no show.’ Once all the data are received by CAPA, analysts can determine an appropriate analytical response (likely cropping the missing study area polygon), or finding spatial techniques to expand the analysis to include missed areas, which can only occur in select conditions. Of note is that local organizers will want to prioritize intentional planning and frequent communication as these are proven effective strategies to ensure all participants fulfill their responsibilities.

Other: Are you experiencing a campaign scenario not mentioned here? Reach out directly to your CAPA Heat Watch program manager! 





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About Us

NIHHIS is an integrated information system that builds understanding of the problem of extreme heat, defines demand for climate services that enhance societal resilience, develops science-based products and services from a sustained climate science research program, and improves capacity, communication, and societal understanding of the problem in order to reduce morbidity and mortality due to extreme heat.  NIHHIS is a jointly developed system by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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