Climate and health perspectives

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LOS ANGELES — Nearly a third of California’s 58 counties are expected to experience at least five extremely hot days this month, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ climate and health outlook released Friday.

The outlook defines an extremely hot day as when the daily high temperature exceeds 95and percentile of the historical temperature distribution in that county.


What do you want to know

  • Ventura and San Bernardino are among 18 counties expected to have at least five extremely hot days in May
  • Extreme heat is when the daily maximum temperature exceeds the 95th percentile of historical temperatures for an area
  • Extreme heat can lead to illness and death
  • The elderly, people with existing health conditions and those with poor access to health care are most at risk

In Southern California, San Diego and Tulare counties are expected to meet those criteria for five to nine days in May, while Ventura, Kern, Kings, Fresno, Inyo, San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties are expected to have at least ten extremely hot. days.

“We’ve seen what exposure to extreme heat can do,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “It can lead to illness and death and makes it much more difficult to do a day’s work outside.”

People who are elderly and live alone, who have existing health conditions or who have limited access to health care are most at risk from extreme heat days, according to the outlook, as are those who live in rural areas, work at outdoors, earn low income, have difficulty paying utility bills, live in substandard housing, or live in urban areas without adequate forest cover.

A Biden administration initiative to protect people’s health by providing advance warning of climate-related risks, Friday’s climate and health outlook for extreme heat combined the National Oceanic’s long-term temperature forecast Atmospheric Association with data from the National Integrated Heat Health Information System to identify areas where residents are most at risk this spring and to identify vulnerable populations.

California is one of 14 states whose counties are expected to experience at least five or more extremely hot days this month. Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Oklahoma, Kansas, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Colorado, Georgia, Florida and Alabama are also on the list. . The outlook estimates that the total population at risk from oppressive heat this month is nearly 32 million people.

Of the areas on the list, 66% have a high number of people without health insurance and 36% have a high number of people living in poverty. More than two-thirds have a high number of people living in areas without adequate forest cover, and a quarter have a high number of people aged 65 or over living alone.

During last summer’s heat dome on the West Coast, heat-related deaths from June 26 to July 10 rose from 12 to 25 in California year-over-year, according to the Department of Health. state public health. Heat-related ER visits during this time also increased, according to the US Centers for Disease Control.

The outlook indicated that warmer temperatures increase the risk of hospitalization for heart disease, as well as heat exhaustion leading to heat stroke. It can also aggravate asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and contribute to dehydration that can lead to kidney damage.

People who work in construction, agriculture, landscaping, and other strenuous outdoor activities are at higher risk for heat-related illnesses.

Intended for use by public health officials, employers with outdoor workers and schools, the Outlook document includes guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on how to prevent heat-related illnesses. He recommends drinking cool water even if you’re not thirsty, resting long enough to recover from the heat, taking breaks in a shady or cool place, wearing a hat, and dressing for the heat.

The outlook also includes best practices for emergency managers and health officials to protect vulnerable populations, noting that peaks in energy demand should be expected during the summer with increased use of air conditioning.

“Our communities across the country will soon face heat waves that will put additional pressure on our health systems,” Deputy Secretary of Health Admiral Rachel Levine said in a statement. “This information will save lives.”

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