On average, 658 Americans die each year due to heat. Surprisingly, those who die from the heat don't usually live in the hottest climates. It's those in out-of-hot zones who aren't acclimated to the heat that are at most risk.
Ask someone who lives in Texas or Arizona what they do when the temperature reaches the century-mark and they'll probably say "nothing different." Not only are people more acclimated in warmer climates, but most, if not all, have air conditioning.
There are four different groups of people who are at heightened risk during heat waves. The heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits.
- Older adults do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperatures. They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat. They are more likely to take prescription medicines that affect the body's ability to control its temperature or sweat.
- Children are at heightened risk of death due to heat. They aren't able to assess the signs of heat stress and may not drink enough fluids during times of hot weather. Kids also crave sugary drinks which aren't as hydrating. Children are also at risk of being left in parked cars.
- Those who are sick are less likely to sense and respond to high temperature. They may be taking medications that can make the effect of hot weather worse. Conditions like heart disease, mental illness, poor blood circulation and obesity are risk factors for heat-related illness.
- Those who are overweight are at higher risk of health complications in heat waves. Those who are overweight or obese tend to retain more body heat.
While these are the four groups most at risk, athletes, outdoor workers, pets, and especially those with low-income (who don't have air conditioning). Click here for more information, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
-Meteorologist Eric Sorensen