With the increase in the severity of drought conditions in the Southwest region of the U.S. paired with rising temperatures, it is becoming increasingly important to look at the systems used to keep people cool in hot-arid cities like Tempe, Arizona. Outdoor misting systems are often deployed by businesses. These systems rely on the evaporative cooling effect of water. This study examines the relationship between misting droplet size, water usage, and thermal comfort using low-pressure misting systems, tested within hot and dry conditions representative of the arid U.S. southwest. A model misting system using three nozzle orifice sizes was set up in a controlled heat chamber environment (starting baseline conditions of 40°C air temperature and 15 % relative humidity). Droplet size was measured using water-reactive paper, while water use was determined based on weight-change measurements. These measurements were paired with temperature and humidity measurements observed in several locations around the chamber to allow for a spatial analysis. Thermal comfort is determined based on psychrometric changes (temperature and absolute humidity) within the room. On average, air temperatures decreased between 2 to 4°C depending on nozzle size and sensor location. The 0.4 mm nozzle had a decent spread across the heat chamber and balanced water usage and effectiveness well. Limitations within the study showed ventilation is important for an effective system, corroborating other studies findings and suggesting that adding air circulation could improve evaporation and comfort and thus effectiveness. Finally, visual cues, such as wetted surfaces, can signal businesses to change nozzle sizes and/or make additional modifications to the system area.
BACKGROUND: The City of Phoenix initiated the HeatReady program in 2018 to prepare for extreme heat, as there was no official tool, framework, or mechanism at the city level to manage extreme heat. The current landscape of heat safety culture in schools, which are critical community hubs, has received less illumination. HeatReady Schools—a critical component of a HeatReady City—are those that are increasingly able to identify, prepare for, mitigate, track, and respond to the negative impacts of schoolgrounds heat. However, minimal attention has been given to formalize heat preparedness in schools to mitigate high temperatures and health concerns in schoolchildren, a heat-vulnerable population. This study set out to understand heat perceptions, (re)actions, and recommendations of key stakeholders and to identify critical themes around heat readiness. METHODS: An exploratory sequential mixed-methods case study approach was used. These methods focused on acquiring new insight on heat perceptions at elementary schools through semi-structured interviews using thematic analysis and the Delphi panel. Participants included public health professionals and school community members at two elementary schools—one public charter, one public—in South Phoenix, Arizona, a region that has been burdened historically with inequitable distribution of heat resources due to environmental racism and injustices. RESULTS: Findings demonstrated that 1) current heat safety resources are available but not fully utilized within the school sites, 2) expert opinions support that extreme heat readiness plans must account for site-specific needs, particularly education as a first step, and 3) students are negatively impacted by the effects of extreme heat, whether direct or indirect, both inside and outside the classroom. CONCLUSIONS: From key informant interviews and a Delphi panel, a list of 30 final recommendations were developed as important actions to be taken to become “HeatReady.” Future work will apply these recommendations in a HeatReady School Growth Tool that schools can tailor be to their individual needs to improve heat safety and protection measures at schools.