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AZ Heat Resilience Workgroup

Heat is a chronic environmental and health challenge for Arizona residents and communities. Often overlooked as an everyday occurrence during the summer months, extreme heat poses threats to everyone and can be fatal. It is particularly detrimental for vulnerable populations, including the homeless, elderly, communities of color, and those in low income areas.

In 2019, Maricopa County (AZ) experienced 197 heat-associated deaths, which marked the all-time high since the Maricopa County Department of Public Health began tracking heat deaths in 2006. Heat-related deaths have risen to new record highs in the county each year since 2016, and statewide numbers reflect a similar pattern. Experts are concerned about further increases in 2020 with healthcare and social support systems severely strained by the global pandemic. Long-term projections of continued warming pose further risks to public health.

One death is too many and every heat death is preventable. Many Arizona nonprofit organizations, cities, counties, state agencies, and researchers provide cooling services to those in need, research the effects of extreme heat, and work to develop and implement equitable service and policy solutions. Only through a collaborative approach can Arizona reduce heat-related deaths and provide better cooling policies and programs.

Workgroup Purpose

Created in the spring of 2020 in anticipation of the extreme summer heat, the purpose of the AZ Heat Resilience Workgroup is to actively convene stakeholder organizations from around Arizona in an effort to monitor heat forecasts/warnings from National Weather Service, share best practices relating to heat response and relief, and to encourage collaboration, coordination, and development of novel responses to preparedness and resilience to extreme heat.

It’s critical for cities and counties to have the weather data they need, share heat relief approaches and communications strategies and resources, as well as connect cities and counties to regional and state resources and information.

Subgroups

  • Cooling Centers – This subgroup meets to discuss coordination and challenges of cooling centers, logistics, COVID-19 protocols, etc. Zoom meetings are held each Monday afternoon. To join an upcoming Cooling Center meeting, please fill out the contact form provided on this page.
  • Communications Subgroup – In development

2021 Meeting Schedule

From April – September, weekly meetings are held on the first and third Thursdays of the month at 3:00 p.m. via Zoom. All Arizona cities, towns, tribal communities, counties, state agencies, organizations, and nonprofit organizations involved in providing cooling services and heat relief to the public are invited to attend. To be added to the meeting email list, please fill out and submit the form on the right side of this page

Workgroup Steering Committee

  • Melissa Guardaro, Assistant Research Professor, ASU Julie Ann Wrigley Institute of Sustainability; Healthy Urban Environments (HUE) & Knowledge Exchange for Resilience (KER)
  • Liza Kurtz, ASU PhD Student, Global Health
  • Anne Reichman, Director, ASU SCN & Project Cities
  • David Hondula, Associate Professor, ASU School of Sciences and Urban Planning
  • Paul Iniguez, Science & Operations Officer, NOAA/National Weather Service Phoenix, AZ
  • Braden Kay, Sustainability Director, City of Tempe

Important Information and Resources

Heat Realted Death in Arizona graph as of March 2021
Source: Arizona Department of Health Services

Workgroup participation

For Workgroup participation and/or media requests, please fill out and submit the following form. We will get back to you to you with 24 hours.

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