It’s no secret that this summer season has been a scorcher, what with the increasing heatwaves in the US and raging wildfires across Europe. The rising temperatures have been and will continue to cause thousands of deaths from hyperthermia, drought, and crop failures.
Extreme heat is an environmental danger that is made all the more fatal to those who are not armed with life-saving information on how to properly handle the heat.
Heat.gov—an educational tool
To help residents of the US cope with the effects of extreme heat the Biden Administration, in collaboration with the National Integrated Heat Health Information System, launched https://www.heat.gov/. The website is designed to explain the very real risks of extreme heat and educate people on how to protect themselves when temperatures rise.
Heat is often thought of as the “silent killer.” Other weather events such as hurricanes and tsunamis inspire more immediate fear, and heat is often not taken so seriously. However, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), extreme heat has been the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the US for the past thirty years—and the planet will only get hotter.
Currently, more than 44 million people in the US reside in regions at risk of extreme heat. Last month, the US experienced early heat waves. This week, even the Pacific Northwest of the country (which is usually more temperate in weather) is experiencing record-breaking highs.
“heat.gov leverages innovation and data to help deliver timely and accurate information to the public,” says US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “As extreme heat conditions impact millions of Americans, this site will help ensure that all our communities, including our most vulnerable, have access to the data, tools, and resources they need to mitigate heat impacts.”
Check out heat.gov for information on the signs of heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Users will also find definitions for various heat-related terms that explain the differences between heat advisories, heat watches, and heat warnings. The site also provides tools that map extreme heat vulnerability, predict future extreme heat events, and track current health-related health complications across the nation.
As associate professor and director of the Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education at Columbia University Dr. Cecilia Sorensen says: “with more frequent, intense, and longer lasting heat waves, there is an urgent need for increased health system preparedness to meet the growing burden of heat-related illness.”