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Lawrence M. Reisinger and Elmer Robinson

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Laurence S. Kalkstein, Paul F. Jamason, J. Scott Greene, Jerry Libby, and Lawrence Robinson

Last summer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, instituted a new Hot Weather–Health Watch/Warning System (PWWS) to alert the city's residents of potentially oppressive weather situations that could negatively affect health. In addition, the system was used by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health for guidance in the implementation of mitigation procedures during dangerous weather. The system is based on a synoptic climatological procedure that identifies “oppressive” air masses historically associated with increased human mortality. Airmass occurrence can be predicted up to 48 h in advance with use of model output statistics guidance forecast data. The development and statistical basis of the system are discussed, and an analysis of the procedure's ability to forecast weather situations associated with elevated mortality counts is presented. The PWWS, through greater public awareness of excessive heat conditions, may have played an important role in reducing Philadelphia's total heat-related deaths during the summer of 1995.

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Kristie L. Ebi, Thomas J. Teisberg, Laurence S. Kalkstein, Lawrence Robinson, and Rodney F. Weiher

The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Hot Weather-Health Watch/Warning System was initiated in 1995 to alert the city's population to take precautionary actions when hot weather posed risks to health. The number of lives saved and the economic benefit of this system were estimated using data from 1995 to 1998. Excess mortality in people 65 yr of age and older was defined as reported mortality minus mortality predicted by a historical trend line developed over the period of 1964–88. Excess mortality during heat waves was explained using multiple linear regression. Two variables were convincingly associated with mortality: the time of season when a particular heat wave started, and a warning variable indicating whether or not a heat wave warning had been issued. The estimated coefficient of the warning variable was about −2.6, suggesting that when a warning was issued, 2.6 lives were saved, on average, for each warning day and for 3 days after the warning ended. Given the number of warnings issued over the 3-yr period, the system saved an estimated 117 lives. Estimated dollar costs for running the system were small compared with estimates of the value of a life.

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Faisal Hossain, Aleix Serrat-Capdevila, Stephanie Granger, Amy Thomas, David Saah, David Ganz, Robinson Mugo, M. S. R. Murthy, Victor Hugo Ramos, Carolyn Fonseca, Eric Anderson, Guy Schumann, Rebecca Lewison, Dalia Kirschbaum, Vanessa Escobar, Margaret Srinivasan, Christine Lee, Naveed Iqbal, Elliot Levine, Nancy Searby, Lawrence Friedl, Africa Flores, Dauna Coulter, Dan Irwin, Ashutosh Limaye, Tim Stough, Jay Skiles, Sue Estes, William Crosson, and Ali S. Akanda
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