Dealing with heat stress at open air events: A multi-method approach on visitors’ vulnerability, risk awareness and adaptive behaviour

11:15 Thursday 30 May

SS048 • OC284

Room S16


Anna Heidenreich (Germany) 1; Martin Buchner (Germany) 1; Ariane Walz (Germany) 1; Annegret Thieken (Germany) 1

1 - University of Potsdam

Between spring and autumn in 2018, the German city of Würzburg, Bavaria, hosted the ‘Landesgartenschau’, a regional horticultural show with around 700Õ000 visitors in total. This ‘Landesgartenschau’ represents one of many similar events which require better individual and organisational adaptation to ensure safe and healthy visits with more frequently occurring heat due to climatic change. Based on this case study, we aim to explore whether and how visitors of open air events adapt to warm or hot summer temperatures during their stays.

During six consecutive weekends in July and August research was conducted including standardized interviews, behavioural observation and measurements of temperature, wind and humidity at different parts of the exhibition ground. In total, 306 visitors were interviewed on their weather perception, ways of weather information search, risk awareness, risk knowledge and heat adaptation behaviour via standardized questionnaires, and 2750 behavioural observations were made to identify behavioural adaptation. During the examination period temperatures recorded at the exhibition ground varied between 19°C and 35°C. For statistical evaluation, correlation analyses, ANOVA and multiple regression analyses were executed.

Differences in adaptation behaviour were observed between rather cold and rainy days (<25°C), warm summer days (25-30°C) and hot days (>30°C). Age and physical fitness had an impact on the perception of heat and the reported thermal stress. Self-reported adaptation behaviour could mostly be confirmed by the behavioural observations. An important finding is the widespread unawareness of official heat warnings: on three observation days with such a warning only 10% of the interviewees knew about it. Concerning adaptation measures against heat stress, most people saw a high individual responsibility for adaptation and held the organizers not strongly responsible. Most visitors rated the Landesgartenschau’s adaptation measures on an average level.

Based on the studies’ results, recommendations can be given to organizers of future open air events. The topic of heat stress has to play a central role in planning for visitors’ safety and also in risk communication. The public awareness of heat stress should be fostered further, so private precaution and adaptation measures can be developed and internalized.