The Two Degree Difference: Extreme heat leading to more hospitalizations

Two Degree Difference

Heat is a silent killer in the United States. It’s actually the number one weather related killer across the country and climate change is making these stretches of deadly heat longer and more frequent.

“We are seeing, at least in the last couple years, frequent 90-degree days or more” said Nichole Hammond a Meteorologist at National Weather Service Burlington.

Over the last few weeks North America has experienced one of its worst rounds of heatwaves in recorded history. Here in Vermont, while it hasn’t been a brutal last few weeks, we have still seen our fair share of heat this season – with already eight 90+ degree days in Burlington as of July 18th.

“Last year in 2020 we saw 20 days of temperatures at least 90 degrees or more.” said Hammond. “On average for Burlington, we average six of those days a year” she adds.

A 2019 study looked at how hospitalizations rise in response to heat index values. The research shows that heat related hospitalizations are at lower heat values in traditionally cooler regions, like the northeast. This shows that these changes in climate will greatly impact people who may be less acclimated to heat. But how can you and the people around you stay safe as warmer temperatures become the norm?

“Drink plenty of fluids, wear light and loose-fitting clothing, also try to stay out of the sun as much as possible. Definitely stay in the air conditioning or the shade.” said Hammond.

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