Western heat wave threatens health in vulnerable communities

by Jeremy

PHOENIX — Extreme temperatures like those blistering the American West this week isn’t just annoying; they’re deadly. This week’s record-breaking temperatures are a weather emergency, scientists and health care experts say, with heat responsible for more deaths in the U.S. than all other natural disasters combined. With more frequent and intense heat waves likely because of climate change and the worst drought in modern history, they say communities must better protect the vulnerable, like homeless people and those who live in ethnically and racially diverse low-income neighborhoods.

Western heat wave threatens health in vulnerable communities

Karuppana noted that many people she sees might have no car and take public transportation in the Phoenix heat, walking through neighborhoods with few trees and waiting at bus and light rail stops with no or slight shade. Some people live in poorly ventilated mobile homes or without air conditioning. Or they may work outside in the sun as construction workers or landscapers.

Phoenix has been baking in temperatures above 115 degrees (46 Celsius) all week. The high Friday was expected to reach 117 degrees (47 Celsius) after hitting a record 118 (48 Celsius) a day earlier. Daily records were set this week in Arizona, Nevada, and California, including 128 degrees (53 Celsius) in Death Valley on Thursday.

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