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Deadly heat takes toll, puts millions at risk of heat-related deaths

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As central Indiana prepares to grapple with escalating temperatures next week, a chilling reality emerges: deadly heat claims the lives of thousands each year.

While it is still nearly a week before the heat returns, it’s important now to talk about the risks associated with the heat and how to help combat these issues in your daily life.

According to recent studies, heat-related deaths have been on a disconcerting upward trajectory.

The World Health Organization estimates that, on average, 166,000 people die each year as a result of heat-related causes.

In the U.S., this number plummets to around 531 heat-related deaths per year. This makes it the deadliest weather phenomenon encountered in any season.

This number is believed to be an underestimate, as many heat-related deaths go unreported, or misclassified.

Certain groups are particularly susceptible to the lethal effects of extreme heat. The elderly, who often have reduced heat tolerance and underlying health conditions, are at a heightened risk.

Young children, pregnant women, outdoor workers, and those with chronic illnesses are also vulnerable. Socioeconomic factors play a significant role as well, with low-income communities lacking access to adequate cooling facilities and resources to combat the heat.

Urban areas amplify the risk, as the “urban heat island effect” exacerbates temperatures, especially in densely populated cities lacking green spaces. Heatwaves, becoming more frequent and intense, further compound the danger.

Efforts to combat heat-related deaths involve raising public awareness about the risks of extreme heat, implementing heat emergency response plans, and expanding access to cooling centers and resources in vulnerable communities.

In conclusion, the toll of deadly heat on human life is alarmingly high, with millions succumbing to its effects annually. Urgent action is required to protect vulnerable populations and implement measures that mitigate the impact of rising temperatures. By prioritizing public health, climate resilience, and equitable access to resources, we can strive to prevent further loss of life and build a safer and more sustainable future for all.