CLOSE

On average, close to 40 children die in hot cars each year in the U.S. Intel has developed a device which aims to lower those numbers.
VPC

TALLAHASSEE — How hot is it?

Florida State University researchers say just check your Twitter feed. Tweets offer a look into how people are reacting to heatwaves, what they’re worried about and what people need to know to cope.

Real time, 140-character messages can help government agencies deliver life-saving public-health information to the masses.

“Certain age groups are using social media as one of their primary forms of communication,” Chris Uejio, an FSU assistant professor of geography, said. “As more people use social media, researchers can use this non-traditional information to improve health.”

Related:

Uejio, along with FSU doctoral student Jihoon Jung, co-wrote a research paper addressing the relationship between Twitter activity during heatwaves and how governments respond. It was published this month in the International Journal of Biometeorology.

“More people are going to social media to talk about their displeasure with heat,” Uejio said, citing examples such as, “I don’t know if I can take any more of this heat,” or “Our air conditioning is running all day.”

“We see the most number of people discussing these topics during the first hot period of summer,” he said, noting that tweets taper off as people get acclimated.

Their study of 3 million tweets posted May to November 2014 found in cities like Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York the number of heat-related tweets increased as outside temperatures skyrocketed.

“If more agencies start to include social media and tap into what people are actually experiencing in real time, they can improve their extreme heat early warning systems,” Uejio said. “We are also hoping that these government groups will start to include more health information in their social media messaging.”

So, how responsive are the agencies?

“They are starting to plug in to (social media posts) and will continue to do more in the future,” Uejio said. “But we are just starting.”

The FSU study focused on how governments responded, for instance, by offering information on the opening of…