Communicating Heat Risk: A Guide to Inclusive, Effective, and Coordinated Public Information Campaigns

Lauren Dunlap
Posted on: 5/20/2024 - Updated on: 5/20/2024

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Throughout California, local and state government agencies, nonprofits, and other heat-concerned organizations — in short, heat communicators — are raising awareness about heat risk, management, and resources. But these efforts often fall short of what is needed to prevent heat harms. As illustrated throughout this report, even when communicators work hard to reach everyone at risk, some people don’t get the message, while others may lack resources or capability to protect themselves.

This report collects insights and guidance for communicators in an accessible, practical format that can strengthen communication efforts. It presents recommendations in five areas to support heat communicators to create more inclusive, effective, and coordinated public information campaigns. These recommendations draw on insights from 15 interviews of academic, government, and nonprofit stakeholders with heat communication expertise:

  1. Deeply engage heat-impacted communities — and decision-makers, too
  2. Use strategic timing and inclusive messaging to convey the very real threat of heat
  3. Build campaigns that use all feasible tactics and prioritize trusted messenger networks
  4. Distribute responsibilities among state and local communicators
  5. Take multiple approaches to evaluate the effectiveness of communications, with community knowledge at the center


Lauren Dunlap (2024). Communicating Heat Risk: A Guide to Inclusive, Effective, and Coordinated Public Information Campaigns. University of California at Los Angeles, Luskin Center for Innovation.

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