The National Weather Service is expecting dangerously hot and humid conditions for the remainder of this week for most of the state. High humidity could make it feel like 100°F or hotter in some locations. Warm nighttime lows will make it hard for people without air conditioning to keep cool. Poor air quality due to wildfire smoke is also a possibility again this week, creating a further health risk for people outdoors.
Vermont data indicates that emergency department visits for heat-related illnesses begin to increase when temperatures reach the mid- to upper-80s, with impacts getting progressively worse as temperatures rise into the 90s. During the 6-day heat wave in 2018, there were at least 4 heat-related deaths and 15 times more heat-related EMS calls and emergency department visits than typical for summer.
Populations most affected
Individuals who are generally at higher risk for heat-related health impacts include: older adults, young children, people who are experiencing homelessness, outdoor workers and hobbyists, pregnant people, people who are overweight, those with chronic medical conditions, disabilities or mental illness, people using recreational drugs or alcohol, and those using certain prescription medications. Risk is further elevated for those who live alone or do not have air conditioning. Dehydration and hot living conditions are the major concerns for these populations.
In your community, please consider the following:
- Use front porch forum or social media to raise awareness
- Be familiar with symptoms of heat illnesses and first aid responses.
- Offer safe & fun ways to stay cool, such as free or extended access to beaches and pools, providing hoses or misters, and offering free cold beverages.
- Consider opening a cooling center, which could be any air-conditioned, publicly accessible location (for example, a library or community center).
- Mobilize local care networks to check in on people at high risk for heat illnesses.
- For outdoor work, recreational activities, or other local events, ensure that organizers are prepared with water, cooling strategies, and event modification or cancellation plans.
- Hot weather can affect anyone – be aware of your own symptoms and look out for others.
For more information about risk factors, symptoms and safety tips: healthvermont.gov/climate/heat. Safety tips are available in English plus Arabic, Burmese, Chinese, French, Karen, Kirundi, Nepali, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, and Vietnamese.
National Weather Service Hazardous Weather Outlook: www.weather.gov/btv/ehwo
Questions? Call the Vermont Department of Health/Environmental Health at 802-863-7220, extension 0, or contact ClimateHealth@vermont.gov.