Extreme heat is the deadliest natural hazard in the United States. A recent study estimates that extreme heat accounted for 12,000 premature deaths in the contiguous U.S. from 2000 to 2010. And while you may be thinking these extreme heat events are a southern issue and are irrelevant to us in New England, think again. Extreme heat events are occurring more frequently in every region of our country and it’s really starting to become a deadly problem.
One indicator of the local links between temperature and mortality is called the minimum mortality temperature or MMT. MMT is the temperature at which the risk of heat-related death is lowest. Once temperatures climb over that threshold, the risks of heat-related deaths increase steeply. In Burlington, we are experiencing 19 more days above the 90th temperature percentile compared to 1970. Simply put, that means heat-related health issues and deaths are on the rise in the Queen City.
Those most at risk include children, adults over 65, pregnant people, and people living with illness. Also, outdoor workers and athletes tend to be at an elevated risk as one would expect because of always having to work and play in the elements.