FEMA issues extreme heat health advisory

Photo: Katrin Ray Shumakov/Getty Images

Extreme heat throughout much of the United States is pushing temperatures into the triple digits in areas that rarely see these high temperatures this early in the year.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has issued an advisory saying that the National Weather Service is reporting more than 72 million people are under heat advisories and excessive heat watches and warnings across much of the Midwest, Great Lakes, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

Extreme heat is the leading weather-related cause of death in the U.S., FEMA said. Weather experts say the atmospheric heat dome is causing record temperatures in parts of the Northeast, and is the strongest in several decades, according to The Wall Street Journal. Heat domes usually form in the South and Southwest during the summer, and are rarely seen in the Northeast in mid-June.

A heat dome over the Pacific Northwest in 2021 caused an estimated 650 heat-related deaths in the U.S. and Canada, according to the WSJ report.


The 2021 heat dome in the Pacific Northwest was associated with a significant increase in healthcare utilization, including ED visits and unplanned hospitalizations, according to the National Institutes of Health National Library of Medicine report.

The report, published in the NIH National Library of Medicine earlier this year, studied the impact of the 2021 heat dome on ER visits, hospitalizations and health system operations in three hospitals in Seattle, Washington.

“The 2021 heat dome was associated with a significant increase in healthcare utilization including ED visits and unplanned hospitalizations,” it said.

Another report showed the 2021 Pacific Northwest heat wave was associated with an increase in injury deaths, according to the American Journal of Public Health.

With a warming climate, heat waves, by definition, will become longer and/or more extreme, the report said.

Another NIH National Library of Medicine report said there is considerable disagreement in the literature about relationships between heat waves and emergency department and/or hospital admissions. Many studies find an overall increase in all-cause or non-accidental admissions during or just after heat waves, whereas others find no increase.


FEMA is encouraging communities to prepare and protect themselves and recognize signs of heat exhaustion, and especially heat stroke, which is a medical emergency.

FEMA advises never to leave children or pets alone in hot vehicles; to check on people who do not have air conditioning; to get to an air-conditioned setting such as a cooling center or library; and to drink plenty of water.


Email the writer: [email protected]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *