Practicum Project | 2023

Communicating extreme heat risk: incorporating community perspectives

Los Angeles County has long been known for its perennially pleasant weather, but increasing occurrence of extreme heat events and recurring droughts threaten public health and welfare. Water shortages, wildfires, and excessive heat are just a glimpse into the impacts climate change is causing to the region. And low-income and BIPOC communities, which are less likely to have access to natural shade, air conditioning, or face other inequalities in resource availability, may face greater vulnerability and worse health outcomes from these changes.

The Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability (LARC), a network that brings together decision-makers to execute climate resiliency efforts across California, works to address these inequities by increasing public knowledge and decreasing barriers to finding existing resources during extreme heat events.

Our team is working with LARC to use the unifying aspects of social media in order to collect and distribute information to help individuals in low-income and BIPOC communities take precautions during extreme heat events. Partnering with the Los Angeles Department of Health in the summer of 2022, LARC launched an initial heat messaging campaign using Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. A separate heat messaging campaign by the City of Los Angeles Climate Emergency Mobilization Office (CEMO) was also launched in July 2022. Using media analytics and climate research, we will collaborate with LARC to assess what days and times were associated with high public engagement, how the two messaging campaigns compared, which distribution partners were most successful in messaging the public, and more broadly how to improve the campaign for 2023 when LARC plans to create a second round of social media campaigns to inform the public about the dangers associated with extreme heat, protective actions residents can take, and how to locate available resources. Campaign materials created through our project will be shared amongst local government organizations as well as non-profits and community members and will be followed by a preliminary impact assessment report. The LARC Heat Messaging campaign will continue to educate our community on heat risk, resources, and assistance programs so that together we can save lives and beat the heat.

Student Team: Kiara Phillips, Isabella Lang, Isabel Severino, Jasmine Culilap, and Alyssa Maynard

Client: Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability (LARC)

Advisor: Erin Coutts