Deadly heat waves threaten older people as summer nears

April 30, 2023  -PHOENIX (AP) — Paramedics summoned to an Arizona retirement community last summer found an 80-year-old woman slumped inside her mobile home, enveloped in the suffocating 99-degree (37 C) heat she suffered for days after her air conditioner broke down. Efforts to revive her failed, and her death was ruled by environmental heat exposure aggravated by heart disease and diabetes.

In America’s hottest big metro, older people like the Sun Lakes mobile home resident accounted for most of the 77 people who died last summer in broiling heat inside their homes, almost all without air conditioning. Now, the heat dangers long known in greater Phoenix are becoming familiar nationwide as global warming creates new challenges to protect the aged.

More on extreme heat:
  • – Takeaways about heat deaths and vulnerable older people
  • – Dangerous heat predicted to hit 3 times more often in future
  • – Study blames climate change for 37% of global heat deaths

From the Pacific Northwest to Chicago to North Carolina, health clinics, utilities and local governments are being tested to keep older people safe when temperatures soar. They’re adopting rules for disconnecting electricity, mandating when to switch on communal air conditioning and improving communication with at-risk people living alone.

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