New CDC Report Finds Extreme Summer Heat Kills More
than All Other Natural Disasters, Offers Help
Most who died were senior citizens, single, living
alone, males; CDC launches new website
June 7, 2013 – The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention are urging people – senior citizens in particular – to
prepare themselves for the extreme heat of summer after releasing a
report showing the U.S. averages 658 deaths a year from this heat – more
than die from tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and lightning combined.
“Taking common sense steps in extreme temperatures
can prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths,” says Robin Ikeda, MD,
MPH, acting director of the National Center for Environmental Health and
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
The CDC is urging Americans to stay cool, hydrated
Extreme heat affects everyone, but the elderly,
children, the poor or homeless, persons who work or exercise outdoors,
and those with chronic medical conditions are most at risk.
Extreme heat can lead to very high body
temperatures, brain and organ damage, and even death. People suffer
heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and cool
A study released this week in CDC’s Morbidity and
Mortality Weekly Report found that 7,233 heat-related deaths occurred in
the United States from 1999 to 2009.
And, an analysis of 2012 data indicates that deaths
are on the rise. In a 2-week period in 2012, excessive heat exposure
resulted in 32 deaths in four states - four times the typical average
for those states for the same 2-week period from 1999-2009.
More than two thirds of the deaths (69 percent)
occurred at home, and 91 percent of those homes lacked air conditioning.
Most of those who died were unmarried or living alone, and 72 percent
According to CDC’s Environmental Tracking Network
from 1999 to 2009 three states, Arizona, California, and Texas accounted
for approximately 40 percent of all heat-related deaths in the United
Across the nation, heat-related deaths occur more
frequently among males and among adults aged 65 and older.
Heat and the Elderly
People aged 65 years or older
are less likely to sense and
respond to changes in
temperature. People in this
category must be given and
reminded of the following
Stay in air-conditioned
buildings as much as
possible. Contact your local
health department or locate
an air-conditioned shelter
in your area.
Do not rely on a fan as your
primary cooling device
during an extreme heat
Drink more water than usual
and don’t wait
until you’re thirsty to
Check on a friend or
neighbor and have someone do
the same for you.
Don’t use the stove or oven
to cook—it will make you and
your house hotter.
Wear loose, lightweight,
Take cool showers or baths
to cool down.
Check the local news for
health and safety updates.
Closely monitor people who
depend on you for their care:
drinking enough water?
Do they have
access to air conditioning?
Do they know
how to keep cool?
The CDC is also recommending that local governments
engage in advanced planning and preparation to minimize deaths from
extreme heat events and to heighten public awareness about the dangers
of excessive heat exposure.
Advance planning should include increasing access
to air conditioning, cooling stations or other public locations that can
be used by residents for temporary relief from heat, particularly when
temperatures are elevated for several consecutive days.
“Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable.
Taking steps to stay cool, hydrated and informed in extreme temperatures
can prevent serious health effects like heat exhaustion and heat
stroke,” said Ethel Taylor, DVM, MPH, the study’s lead author.
CDC is offering new resources, including a new
website to prepare for extreme heat, new data on heat-related emergency
room visits and hospitalizations, and a Climate Change and Extreme Heat
Events guidebook. The new resources not only provide prevention
information; but also, data to illustrate the devastating impact extreme
heat exposure can exert on a person’s daily life.
New Resources on Extreme Heat
Extreme Heat and Your Health Website: This
new page collects CDC resources on extreme heat in one place and
provides information on how to prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths
for a variety of audiences. The site can be accessed at
Environmental Public Health Tracking Data:
CDC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Network introduces new data
on heat-stress hospitalizations and emergency room visits from
2000-2011. This adds to the records already available on extreme
temperatures, heat-related deaths, and social and environmental
conditions that make people vulnerable to extreme heat. Decision makers
can use these data to plan how and where to focus efforts to protect the
public from extreme heat. The Tracking Network can be accessed at
Climate Change and Extreme Heat Events
Guidebook: This recently released guidebook for state and local
health departments describes how to prepare for and respond to extreme
heat events and explains how the frequency, duration, and severity of
these events are increasing as a result of climate change. An audio file
from the recent CDC extreme heat event webinar is also available for
tips and guidance.
Workplace Solutions Bulletin: This recently
released NIOSH bulletin provides updated statistics, case studies and
recommendations for workers and employers to follow in order to reduce
the risk of heat-related illness when working outdoors. The report
provides specific guidance, examples and it adds to the available
resources that illustrate how extreme heat exposures can lead to
occupational illnesses and injuries and possible death. The NIOSH
resources are available at:
About Heat Stress
For more information on extreme heat and heat
safety, call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) or visit
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