Much of the country is contending with an extraordinarily long bout of extreme heat. Daytime temperatures are well into the 90s, heat indices are soaring to 100-110+ degrees, and humidity levels are almost unbearable. What’s worse? There’s little to no relief in sight, which could spell serious trouble to millions at home, at work, and everywhere in between.  

Extreme heat isn’t just uncomfortable. It is a serious risk to public safety and business continuity, and it’s becoming increasingly common given the effects of climate change. Consider the following:

  • The average daily temperature worldwide is at a record high of 62.96 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  • Research suggests the planet just experienced its warmest June ever recorded. 
  • In early July, over 55 million people were under some heat-related advisory. 
  • The recent Fourth of July holiday was the hottest ever recorded.   
  • Extreme heat can significantly impact business productivity and efficiency as employees can easily lose focus, concentration, and decision-making abilities.  
  • The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiated new measures to protect worker better in hot environments and reduce the dangers of exposure to ambient heat in 2021.  
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there are over 67,500 emergency department visits due to heat-related illness each year and around 700 heat-related deaths. (These numbers are up sharply given the present frequency and severity of extreme heat events.) 

Public Safety, Health Concerns

Heat poses several risks to personal health, particularly for children, the elderly, and those with certain medical conditions (e.g., heart and respiratory diseases). Even healthy people working or playing outdoors may experience heat strokes, heat exhaustion, or death. In fact, according to the CDC, many cities across the U.S., including St. Louis, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Cincinnati, have seen large increases in death rates during recent heat waves.  

The latest city to join the ranks is El Paso, Texas. There, temperatures have exceeded 100 degrees for well over 20 consecutive days, and 13 people recently succumbed to heat-related illnesses. The scorching heat continues to plague the city and surrounding areas, and excessive heat warnings remain in effect.