Heat Action Plan Toolkit for Local Governments

About the Heat Action Plan Toolkit

The Heat Action Plan Toolkit provides resources for local government staff and community partners to help residents adapt to extreme heat. Designed for communities in North Carolina, this toolkit includes: Background on the importance of addressing extreme heat in your community; a heat action plan template featuring step-by-step guidance on how to identify high-risk groups within local jurisdictions, suggested preparedness and response strategies for local governments to include in their plans and more; sample graphics and infographics to use for communicating with residents and groups with higher risk from extreme heat; and sample messaging, protocols, and checklists. This toolkit is primarily targeted for use by local health departments and has a focus on mitigating the health effects of extreme heat in North Carolina communities. 

Developing the Heat Action Plan Toolkit has been a collaborative effort between the State Climate Office of North Carolina, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Carolinas Climate Adaptation Partnership and the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency, with support from: the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the Heat Policy Innovation Hub at the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainability at Duke University, the NOAA National Weather Service – Raleigh Forecast Office, and Chatham County Health Department.  

Why Heat?

Heat is our number one weather-related killer, and the most preventable. All regions of the state already experience temperatures throughout the summer that may lead to adverse health effects, particularly among people who are at increased risk for heat related illness. For example, outdoor laborers (e.g., agricultural workers or construction workers) in both urban and rural settings may be exposed to unsafe heat conditions for extended periods of time. In addition, North Carolina summers are warming and becoming longer, with abnormally hot days and nights increasingly occurring in the spring and fall. Residents, especially those in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions, will likely experience higher heat index values as the climate changes. Many communities, both urban and rural, are already experiencing increases in the number of nights where temperatures remain high.

As temperatures continue to warm, both days and nights will continue to get hotter. These warmer days and nights, combined with increases in humidity, and lack of access to sufficient cooling for all residents, are already presenting a public health risk. The Heat Action Plan Toolkit aims to help communities statewide prepare for the challenges of heat stress. 

The Heat Action Plan Toolkit is now available at https://www.rebuild.nc.gov/heat-action-plan-toolkit

Thresholds used in the Heat Action Plan Toolkit are available at https://climate.ncsu.edu/heat_toolkit/thresholds/