Climate and heat-related emergencies in Chicago, Illinois (2003-2006)

Donna A. Hartz, Jay S. Golden, Chona Sister, Wen Ching Chuang, Anthony J. Brazel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Extreme heat events are responsible for more deaths in the United States than floods, hurricanes and tornados combined. Yet, highly publicized events, such as the 2003 heat wave in Europe which caused in excess of 35,000 deaths, and the Chicago heat wave of 1995 that produced over 500 deaths, draw attention away from the countless thousands who, each year, fall victim to nonfatal health emergencies and illnesses directly attributed to heat. The health impact of heat waves and excessive heat are well known. Cities worldwide are seeking to better understand heat-related illnesses with respect to the specifics of climate, social demographics and spatial distributions. This information can support better preparation for heat-related emergency situations with regards to planning for response capacity and placement of emergency resources and personnel. This study deals specifically with the relationship between climate and heat-related dispatches (HRD, emergency 911 calls) in Chicago, Illinois, between 2003 and 2006. It is part of a larger, more in-depth, study that includes urban morphology and social factors that impact heat-related emergency dispatch calls in Chicago. The highest occurrences of HRD are located in the central business district, but are generally scattered across the city. Though temperature can be a very good predictor of high HRD, heat index is a better indicator. We determined temperature and heat index thresholds for high HRD. We were also able to identify a lag in HRD as well as other situations that triggered higher (or lower) HRD than would typically be generated for the temperature and humidity levels, such as early afternoon rainfall and special events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-83
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Biometeorology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Biometeorology
  • Heat morbidity
  • Heat waves
  • Heat-related emergencies
  • Urban heat island

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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