Early heat warning system to help save lives in changing climate

A Griffith University-ledthree-yearproject todevelopan early warning system in homes during extreme heateventshas receivedmore than$2 millionin funding.

TheEtHOsproject, was awarded $2.35 million byglobal charitable foundationWellcometo helplimitthe thousands of lives lost each yearto heat stress.

Led byDrShannon Rutherford,fromthe School of Medicine and Dentistry,EtHOsis amultidisciplinaryresearchteamwithintheClimate Action research groupthatincludesexpertsinaged-care nursing, IT,human physiology,engineering, climate science, health economics and environmental epidemiology.

Dr Shannon Rutherford, EtHOs project leader from the School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Dr Rutherford said the team recognised that climate change would lead to more extreme and frequentheatepisodes andsaidaction must be taken to reduce the risk to olderpopulations who were more vulnerable to heat stress.

“We want to develop an individualised early warning system for older people living at homespecificto their homeenvironmentand consideringdifferent people may be vulnerable to heat for different reasons,andwe all have different needsforand levels of access to cooling options,” Dr Rutherford said.

We would like older people living at home and in the community to have access to a system that helps them, their families and care systems feel safe and confident in their homes as the world experiencesmore frequent and more intense heat events.

EtHOsco-researcher Sarah Smithsaid the heat stress early warning system’s appearance and how users interacted with it woulddepend onthe perspectives of the project’susers and projectpartners.

The benefit of co-design is that we’ve engaged early with peoplewho are the focus of oursystemand their experienceswill assist us in developing the system,”MsSmithsaid.

Dr SebastianBinnewies, from the Institute for Integrated and Intelligent Systems, will oversee the software development, testing and integration process.

Dr Aaron Bach, from Cities Research Institute will lead the development of thein-home monitoring systemandtheheat-health algorithm used to identify riskprofiles.

Wellcomeis a politically and financially independent global charitable foundationthat supports science to solve the urgent health challenges facing the world.Itsupports discovery research into life, health and wellbeing, focusing on three worldwide health challenges: mental health, infectious disease and climate.

“We will work withour olderpersons,theirin-homecarersand our partner organisations to identify what issues are important tothem in responding to heat in the home,” Dr Rutherford said.

“By involving older people and existing systems of care early, we can identify the issues and co-design solutions together.”