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Scientists Announce July is Hottest Month Ever

Another day in July 2023 and another alert about extreme high temperatures. In fact, this month has scientists calculating that it will be the hottest globally and probably the warmest in human history.

After the hottest recorded June, “the first three weeks of (July) was the warmest three-week period on record,” according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), and occasionally exceeding a crucial warming threshold—an internationally accepted limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), which was established in the Paris Agreement.

In response to the extreme heat, U.S. President Joe Biden announced steps to protect U.S. workers and expand access to drinking water. Biden asked the U.S. Department of Labor to issue a hazard alert for dangerous conditions for workers facing a greater risk of injury or death from the heat, such as people working in agriculture and construction.

Extreme high temperatures can double the risk of dying from a heart attack, according to a recent study where researchers looked at more than 200,000 cardiac deaths between 2015 and 2020.

“The announcement comes as nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population faces heat advisories, according to the National Weather Service, and high temperatures are expected to spread in the coming days to the Midwest and Northeast,” the Associated Press (AP) reported.

“As part of the alert, the Department of Labor will provide information on what employers can and should be doing now to protect their workers, help ensure employees are aware of their rights, including protections against retaliation, and highlight the steps the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is currently taking to protect workers,” Thursday’s White House fact sheet said.

The announcement also noted that Biden is directing up to $7 million from the Inflation Reduction Act towards creating improved weather prediction capabilities, generated by a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, universities, and other organizations.

And to increase access to drinking water, the Department of the Interior is investing $152 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to increase water storage capacity and install water pipelines for drought-impacted communities. There will also be investments in new water recycling and desalination projects.

The promise of deadly extreme heat has initiated heat alerts in several cities and U.S. states, including Arizona, Baltimore; Maryland; Connecticut; Indiana; Iowa; Missouri; New York City; southern California; and Washington, D.C., according to CNN.

“The extreme weather which has affected many millions of people in July is unfortunately the harsh reality of climate change and a foretaste of the future,” said World Meteorological Organization’s Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas in a press release.

Emergency medical staff is treating the heat in Pheonix, Arizona, as a public health emergency. Just last year, Maricopa County reported a 25 percent increase in deaths attributed to heat compared to 2021. Beyond the typical measures, the Valleywise Health Medical Center will also be treating heat stroke victims with immersive cooling in a body bag filled with ice.

The U.S. National Park Service also reported an increase in deaths caused by extreme heat, although the temperatures have not dampened national park attendance.

“At least five people who have died in national parks since the start of the summer months are suspected to have succumbed to heat-related illness,” ABC News reported.

Heat-related illnesses can include heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke—all of which require emergency medical attention. While anyone outside during extreme heat can be affected, elderly people, individuals experiencing homelessness, and incarcerated individuals are at greater risk than others.

“Soaring temperatures place ever-increasing strains not just on power grids and infrastructure, but on human bodies that are not equipped to survive some of the extreme we are already experiencing,” said University of Wisconsin-Madison scientist Andrea Dutton to the AP.

If you or your employees are dealing with extreme heat, there are some actions that can help in mitigating the danger posed since many heat-related illnesses are preventable. The following is a highlighted list of symptoms and solutions to be aware of. For a full list, please visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Heat Stroke

    • Symptoms include, but are not limited to, a high body temperature, headache, dizziness, confusion, and passing out.

    • Call 911 immediately and move the person to a cooler area. Lower his or her temperature with cool cloths or a cold bath, but do not give them anything to drink.

  • Heat Exhaustion

    • Symptoms include, but are not limited to, heavy sweating, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, and fainting.

    • Move to a cooler place and use cold, wet cloths or take a cold bath. It’s okay to sip water.

    • If the person is vomiting or has symptoms that are worsening or lasting more than an hour, seek immediate medical attention.

  • Heat Cramps

    • Symptoms include heavy sweating during intense exercise and muscle pains or spasms.

    • Stop physical activity and move to a cool place, waiting for cramps to subside before doing any more physical activity. Drink water.

    • Seek immediate medical attention if the cramps last more than one hour, if the person is on a low-sodium diet, or if the person has a history of heart problems.

  • Sunburn

    • Symptoms include, but are not limited to, painful, red, and warm skin, and/or blistered skin.

    • Move into a shaded area and stay out of direct sunlight until the burns heal. Treat the affected skin with cool cloths or a moisturizing lotion.

  • Heat Rash

    • Red clusters of blisters that appear similar to pimples.

    • Keep the rash dry and remain in a cool, dry place.