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Experiences of heat stress while homeless on hot summer days in Adelaide

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journal contribution
posted on 04.02.2022, 05:48 by D Every, James McLennanJames McLennan, E Osborn, C Cook
Historically, heat waves have resulted in more Australian deaths than any other natural hazard and continue to present challenges to the health and emergency management sectors. While people experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable to adverse effects of heat waves, little research has been reported about their hot weather experiences. This paper reports findings from interviews with 48 homeless people sleeping rough in Adelaide CBD on very hot days. While the majority reported drinking a litre or more of water in the previous 24 hours, 79% reported experiencing one or more heat stress symptoms. The research highlights that the protective actions people sleeping rough can take during hot weather are limited by their circumstances and may not be sufficient to prevent dehydration and heat stress. The levels of dehydration and heat stress symptoms suggest that immediate responses could include making drinking water more readily available. It may be helpful to provide information which highlights heat stress symptoms including indicators of dehydration. The role of outreach in providing connections, support and advice is most likely to ameliorate the risk of heat stress. However, the long-term response to protect people from heat stress is access to housing.

History

Publication Date

01/10/2021

Journal

Australian Journal of Emergency Management

Volume

36

Issue

4

Pagination

(p. 55-61)

Publisher

Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience

ISSN

1324-1540

Rights Statement

© 2021 by the authors. License Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience, Melbourne, Australia. This is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ 4.0/).

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