Doctors, hospitals, and governments are all noticing an increase in heat-related deaths. The US National Institute for Health reports when summer temperatures reach above 90F (32C), an average of 1373 more people die each year.
In Portugal alone this summer, 1000 deaths were linked to extreme heat.
And yet, not all heat-related deaths are reported accurately. The person filling out a death certificate needs to specifically indicate that heat was a contributing factor in order to be considered in most government’s statistics on heat-related deaths.
If no note is made that the death happened in, or immediately after, a heat wave, or if the core temperature was not taken in time, the statistics may be flawed.
Why does this matter?
Without accurate facts, we cannot take action. Dr. Sameed Khatana of the University of Pennsylvania studies and writes about the health disparities that are becoming more pronounced with climate change. Action needs to be taken at a local level to adapt our cities to extreme heat.
What can you do?
Your local health department has these records publicly available. You can ask how heat-related deaths are reported. You can also ask how your city is preparing for extreme heat, even if such events are rare.
And, of course, you can share this email and start a conversation with your friends.