154 died of heat stroke in New York City from 2000-11: said CDC

Heat waves are the deadliest of extreme weather events, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week.

A case study published in the August 9 edition of the agency's journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, looked at heat illness in New York City from 2000 to 2011. The results revealed that there were more than 150 deaths, about 1,600 hospitalizations and around 2,700 emergency room visits due to the extreme heat.

Heat waves are dangerous for everyone, but the elderly, children, the poor and those with pre-existing medical condition are particularly at risk. Those who have outdoor jobs like athletes and laborers are also in danger.

The new report revealed that the chance of heat-related health issues was higher among older adults and in neighborhoods with high poverty rates. Many of the victims had chronic physical or mental health problems.

Overall, heat waves killed more people in the U.S. than any other extreme weather event, the CDC researchers reported.

Air conditioning is a useful tool to combat the extreme heat, but researchers found that many of the deceased in New York did not have a working air conditioner. Obesity was another common factor among those who died.

The researchers said that New York City should make an effort to prevent heat illness by making it easier to access air conditioning and by increasing awareness of heat-related dangers, risk factors and protective measures among those who are at a higher risk and their caregivers.

Older people and those with chronic diseases should be encouraged to stay hydrated and use air conditioning or stay in areas that are air conditioned. Caregivers should also stop by often to make sure that people potentially in danger are okay.

"Water is the ideal fluid for hydration, and it is recommended to avoid excessive amounts of caffeine, which can lead to dehydration," Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, previously told CBSNews.com. "Sports or energy drinks, which contain high amounts of caffeine as well as sugar, and are not recommended in the setting of extreme heat as they also predispose individuals to great amounts of water loss and subsequent dehydration."

A previous study by the CDC showed that about 650 heat-related deaths across the nation could be prevented each year.

People should also learn how to spot people who are suffering from heat-related illness. There are two types of heat-related illnesses, which occur when the body cannot regulate its own temperature or increased heat production.

Even before the body goes into heat stroke, the person may experience nausea, abdominal cramping, vomiting, muscle cramping, dizziness, headache and difficulty breathing.

During heat stroke, patients experience a body temperature of more than 103 degrees F. They also may have red, hot and dry skin and may not be sweating.

When you see someone having a heat stroke, get them to a cooler area, loosen or remove any heavy clothing and put them in a cool shower to lower their temperature to 101 or 102 degrees F. Do not give them anything to drink and seek immediate medical help.

When a person is having the second type of illness, heat exhaustion, they typically lack fluids. It can occur a few days after the extreme heat event. A person may experience heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting and fainting. The person could have a fast, weak pulse and breathing rate, and their skin may feel cool and moist. Get them hydrated with cool, nonalcoholic beverages. If the condition persists longer than an hour, go to a doctor.

Pets are also susceptible to extreme heat. Just because a pet is an outdoors most of the time doesn't mean they can tolerate the extreme weather better. Dr. John Gicking, a board-certified specialist in critical care with BluePearl in Tampa, Fla., previously explained to CBSNews.com that pets should be given plenty of water and shade where they can escape the heat.

"They can develop organ failure including kidney, lung and liver failure, bleeding problems where they can't clot blood and go into shock," Gicking said.



Study: Hotter temperatures lead to hotter tempers

As the world gets warmer, people are more likely to get hot under the collar, scientists say. A massive new study finds that aggressive acts like committing violent crimes and waging war become more likely with each added degree.

Researchers analyzed 60 studies on historic empire collapses, recent wars, violent crime rates in the United States, lab simulations that tested police decisions on when to shoot and even cases where pitchers threw deliberately at batters in baseball. They found a common thread over centuries: Extreme weather — very hot or dry — means more violence.

The authors say the results show strong evidence that climate can promote conflict.

"When the weather gets bad we tend to be more willing to hurt other people," said economist Solomon Hsiang of the University of California, Berkeley.

He is the lead author of the study, published online Thursday by the journal Science. Experts in the causes of war gave it a mixed reception.

The team of economists even came up with a formula that predicts how much the risk of different types of violence should increase with extreme weather. In war-torn parts of equatorial Africa, it says, every added degree Fahrenheit or so increases the chance of conflict between groups— rebellion, war, civil unrest — by 11 percent to 14 percent. For the United States, the formula says that for every increase of 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit, the likelihood of violent crime goes up 2 percent to 4 percent.

Temperatures in much of North America and Eurasia are likely to go up by that 5.4 degrees by about 2065 because of increases in carbon dioxide pollution, according to a separate paper published in Science on Thursday.

The same paper sees global averages increasing by about 3.6 degrees in the next half-century. So that implies essentially about 40 percent to 50 percent more chance for African wars than it would be without global warming, said Edward Miguel, another Berkeley economist and study co-author.

When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change updates its report next year on the impacts of global warming, it will address the issue of impacts on war for the first time, said Carnegie Institution scientist Chris Field, who heads that worldwide study group. The new study is likely to play a big role, he said.

Hsiang said that whenever the analyzed studies looked at temperature and conflict, the link was clear, no matter where or when. His analysis examines about a dozen studies on collapses of empires or dynasties, about 15 studies on crime and aggression and more than 30 studies on wars, civil strife or intergroup conflicts.

In one study, police officers in a psychology experiment were more likely to choose to shoot someone in a lab simulation when the room temperature was hotter, Hsiang said. In another study, baseball pitchers were more likely to retaliate against their opponents when a teammate was hit by a pitch on hotter days. Hsiang pointed to the collapse of the Mayan civilization that coincided with periods of historic drought about 1,200 years ago.

People often don't consider human conflict when they think about climate change, which is "an important oversight," said Ohio State University psychology professor Brad Bushman, who wasn't part of the study but whose work on crime and heat was analyzed by Hsiang.

There's a good reason why people get more aggressive in warmer weather, Bushman said. Although people say they feel sluggish when they are hot, their heart rate and other physical responses are aroused and elevated. They think they are not agitated, when in fact they are, and "that's a recipe for disaster," Bushman said.

Experts who research war and peace were split in their reaction to the work.

"The world will be a very violent place by mid-century if climate change continues as projected," said Thomas Homer-Dixon, a professor of diplomacy at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Ontario.

But Joshua Goldstein, a professor of international relations at American University and author of "Winning the War on War," found faults with the way the study measured conflicts. He said the idea of hotter tempers with hotter temperatures is only one factor in conflict, and that it runs counter to a long and large trend to less violence.

"To read this you get the impression, if climate change unfolds as we all fear it will, that the world will be beset by violent conflict and that's probably not true," Goldstein said.

"Because of positive changes in technology, economics, politics and health" conflict is likely to continue to drop, although maybe not as much as it would without climate change, he said.

Miguel acknowledges that many other factors play a role in conflict and said it's too soon to see whether conflict from warming will outweigh peace from prosperity: "It's a race against time."

WASHINGTON August 1, 2013 (AP)



US National Heat Stroke Prevention Day on July 31

In recognition of National Heatstroke Prevention Day on July 31, The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) is reminding Californians to take precautions when out in summer temperatures and to guard against the danger of leaving children unattended in vehicles.

"Too many children die as a result of being left unattended in vehicles for any amount of time," said OTS Director Christopher J. Murphy. "These tragedies are 100 percent preventable. National Heatstroke Prevention Day is a good reminder for parents and caregivers to ensure that no child is ever left unsupervised."

Before the heat wave in early July 2013, OTS warned that a car's internal temperature can rise above 100 degrees even on cooler days, while a car in 110 degree sun can reach 160 degrees in an hour. When the temperature is 100 degrees, even a half-hour in a vehicle can be enough heat to kill or severely injure young children. Senate Bill 255, also known as Kaitlyn's Law, was enacted in California in 2001 and made it illegal to leave children unattended in a motor vehicle.

OTS is again sharing the following tips and reminders to help parents and guardians follow the law and keep their children safe this summer:

  • Never leave your child unattended in a hot vehicle, not even for a minute
  • For parents of young children, place a needed item for your next stop, such as your cell phone or purse, on the floor in front of your child's safety seat. This will help to remind you that your child is in the car when you retrieve the needed items
  • Set a reminder or alarm on your cell phone that reminds you to drop off your child at school or day care, or have a loved one call to ensure that the drop-off occurred
  • Ask day care providers to call if your child is ever late being dropped off
  • Develop a routine for exiting the car; check the backseat and lock all doors and the trunk every time
  • Always lock your car doors and do not give children access to keys or keyless entry devices
  • Teach your children that cars are never to be used as a place to play
  • If your child is missing, be sure to check all vehicles and trunks
  • If you see an unattended child in a hot vehicle, call 911 immediately

For more information on all OTS efforts, visit www.ots.ca.gov



Heat wave: Death Valley braces for record heat

New York Times - July 1, 2013

PHOENIX — An unforgiving heat wave held much of the West in a sweltering embrace over the weekend, tying or breaking temperature records in several cities, grounding flights, sparking forest fires and contributing to deaths.

An elderly man was found dead on Saturday in a home without air-conditioning in Las Vegas, where the city's temperature reached 115 degrees, tying the record for the hottest June 29 since 1994. Also, more than 200 people at an outdoor concert there were treated for heat-related problems that day, 34 of them at hospitals, the authorities said.

At trailheads at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada, park rangers were trying to dissuade people from hiking the same area where a Boy Scout troop leader died of heat exposure early last month, when temperatures were lower.

At Death Valley National Park in California, whose temperature of 134 degrees a century ago stands as the highest ever recorded in the world, the digital thermometer became a busy tourist attraction over the weekend. The forecast called for a high of around 130 degrees at the park's Furnace Creek area on Sunday.

Because summer brings the highest rate of deaths among migrants trying to enter the United States illegally through Arizona, the Border Patrol added extra members to its elite search and rescue team. At least seven migrants had been found dead in the desert over the past week.

Monsoons normally bring rain and cooler temperatures to the region in July, but the heat has shown no sign of abating. Several Western states were under heat warnings on Sunday, with most of those expected to remain in effect at least through Tuesday evening. Meteorologists warned of the potential for forest fires in drought-plagued communities in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico, as the clouds that build early in the monsoon season often bring lightning and wind but little or no rain.

Lightning had already started four forest fires outside New Mexico's capital, Santa Fe, on Friday. On Sunday, one of them was still burning.

"We're really kind of on the edge of our seats now and over the next week or two," said Todd Shoemake, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

On Saturday, as the temperature reached 119 degrees in Phoenix, making it the city's fourth hottest day on record, US Airways canceled 18 of its regional flights because the maker of the smaller jets that fly those routes had provided performance statistics only up to temperatures of 118 degrees.

It has been so hot here in Phoenix that tigers at the zoo were served frozen fish treats and elephants were doused with hoses to keep them from overheating. Butterflies were found collapsed on the pavement, felled, apparently, by the temperatures. Mesquite trees, staples of the desert, closed their tiny leaves to protect themselves from the heat.

"This is payback time for those days that we're happy not to be the ones shoveling snow out there," Marcus Morrison, 34, said as he stood at a bus stop here on Sunday.

A wispy layer of clouds moved over the city on Friday, trapping the heat. Temperatures here had not dipped under 90 degrees since Thursday morning, and there was no sign of immediate relief in the forecast for Phoenix and elsewhere in the region.

It is only on Friday that the daytime temperatures here and in several other cities are expected to drop below 110.

The heat did not stop tourists from going outside on the Las Vegas Strip, which was thick with pedestrians sweating through tank tops over the weekend. On Saturday, Deanna Harney, who had traveled from Boston, threw her arms up to celebrate the hot weather, saying: "I love it! It's been raining back home."

Nearby, Joe Mendoza suffered under a Mario Brothers costume as he posed for pictures with tourists in exchange for tips. "I brought frozen water bottles, and I drink at least one every hour," Mr. Mendoza said through a large foam head.

Most of the people he sees, he said, "don't look like they're having a lot of fun either."


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