Summer Is Coming

Marilu Trainor

Whether it’s your first summer in Arizona or you are a seasoned veteran, it’s important to prepare for living (and surviving) in our desert climate. Although Summer 2021 in the Northern Hemisphere will begin on June 20 and ends on Sept. 22, the hotter weather arrives early in Arizona.

It’s time to get ready with a few reminders:

Quick heat facts:

* Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year and even more heat-related illnesses.

* On average, excessive heat claims more lives each year than floods, lightning, tornadoes, and hurricanes combined. In 2019 there were 160 heat-caused deaths and 283 heat-related deaths in Arizona.

* Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits. It is important to remember that extreme heat occurs in Arizona, and people who travel to locations susceptible to high heat and humidity should also be extra cautious. In extended periods of extreme heat, evaporation is slowed, and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature.

* Most heat disorders occur because the victim has been overexposed to heat or has over-exercised for his or her age and physical condition. Older adults, young children, and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to succumb to extreme heat.

* Asphalt and concrete store heat longer and gradually release heat at night, which can produce higher nighttime temperatures known as the “urban heat island effect.”

According to the Center for Disease Control’s website:

* Despite the fact that all heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable, each year, an average of about 658 people succumb to extreme heat.

* Estimating the public health impact of extreme heat is difficult, because heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion, do not require reporting to public health agencies.

* Aspects of the manmade environment—access to transportation, medical care and cooling centers, and prevalence of crime in a neighborhood—can accentuate the health risks of heat waves.