Monday, November 13, 2023
5:15 PM - 6:45 PM
Equitable Access to Cooling Centers in the Context of Heat Vulnerability in LA County
Session ID
Poster Presentations
Equity & Empowerment
Diego Ramos Aguilera

Anthropogenic climate change is expected to increase the duration, frequency, and intensity of extreme heat events across the world. A population’s vulnerability to extreme heat depends on a combination of their exposure and sensitivity to the hazard, and of their capacity to adapt to it. In the United States, a common way of combating extreme heat is through the use of air conditioning (AC) in homes, but AC ownership is not equitably distributed, and certain populations who do own AC units may avoid using them because of financial concerns. Additionally, grid infrastructure can be strained during heat events, leading to brownouts or blackouts that can heighten the risk for vulnerable individuals. For these reasons, it is important to study the availability and accessibility of alternative cooling strategies, such as public cooling centers, especially for the populations most at risk. We focus on the case study of Los Angeles (LA) County, a populous region with varied climates, significant income inequalities, diverse demographics, which experiences elevated temperatures in the summer months. First, we use a heat vulnerability index to identify vulnerable populations residing in LA County. We then explore their access to cooling centers by considering both their proximity to the centers as well as the accessibility of these centers via road and public transit networks. In this way, we identify the locations where establishing cooling centers should take priority, and ensure that public interventions are successful in diminishing the vulnerability of exposed populations.