Innovation That Matters

| Photo source University of Sydney

Personalised advice for staying cool in extreme heat 

Health & Wellbeing

An app provides a daily risk rating that includes simple actions people can take to protect their health

Spotted: Analysis by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) found that in the past three decades, hospitalisations due to injuries caused by extreme weather have increased, and “exposure to excessive natural heat was the most common cause leading to injury hospitalisation for all states and territories.”  

The Heat and Health Research Incubator at the University of Sydney is working to reduce the risks to communities of those injuries, particularly those caused by extreme heat. One of the Incubator’s recent tools is the HeatWatch app, which is currently being trialled in Western Sydney during the 2023 – 2024 summer months before being made available nationally.  

Users set their location to see the current heat health risk, which is listed as one of six categories ranging from minimal to extreme. Depending on the level of risk, the app lists suggestions for staying cool for both indoor and outdoor situations. The app also shows heat risk predictions for the next several days. 

To personalise the heat health risk, users input data that includes age group, medications, applicable risk categories such as chronic illness or pregnancy and where they will be and what type of clothing they will be wearing. The app then provides a risk analysis for those conditions, and users can toggle between different options to see if or how the risk changes. 

Risk is calculated based on a physiological human thermoregulation model and how the current outdoor air temperature, wind speed, humidity, and more affect that process. The app team emphasises that the information provided is for information only, and the app reminds users that use of the app does not replace or provide professional medical advice.  

Cooling innovations are needed almost everywhere, and Springwise’s library includes a range of examples, including a coating for glass that cools buildings and greenhouses and green roof panels made from recycled tyres.  

Written By: Keely Khoury

Email: federico.tartarini@sydney.edu.au

Website: /heat-stress-scale.sydney.edu.au/

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