As an oppressive heat wave moves north and east from Texas, many communities in the Southeastern United States are predicted to experience triple-digit temperatures. Heat-related illness and deaths are likely. Comments below from Duke University heat and health expert Ashley Ward are available for your coverage.
Note to editors: A heat symptoms and interventions graphic from Duke’s Heat Policy Innovation Hub is available for download in English and Spanish here.
“This deadly heat event will hit communities with both high daytime temperatures and persistently high overnight temperatures,” says Ashley Ward, director of the Heat Policy Innovation Hub at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainability. “Such conditions are likely to cause dangerous illness and loss of life across a region where millions of people lack access to adequate cooling, including prisoners and other institutionalized populations who lack control of their environment. Even people who have access to air conditioning will struggle to keep cool.
“Community members facing this deadly heat event should be on the lookout for signs of heat-related health stress and prepare to take action. Fans, cool foot baths, cool showers and wet clothing are interventions that can prove helpful.”
“Ironically, the state of Texas recently overturned worker protections against heat health hazards by rolling back mandated water and rest breaks starting Sept. 1. Many other states also have inadequate worker protections for periods of extreme heat.”
“To effectively safeguard communities facing extreme heat — and especially the people most at risk of heat-related illnesses and death — we need improved occupational safety policies around heat, cooling standards and ways to target services for those populations most in need.”
Ashley Ward is director of the Heat Policy Innovation Hub at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability. She focuses on engaging communities to identify and address climate, environmental and health issues while helping them develop long-term, sustainable strategies relevant to their needs. Ward is coauthor of an April 2023 report that evaluates states’ treatment of extreme heat risks in their hazard mitigation plans.
For additional comment, contact Ashley Ward at:
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