AP (NEW)

Takeaways about heat deaths and vulnerable older people

Apr 30, 2023, 4:27 AM

SUN LAKES, Arizona (AP) — Heat waves fueled by climate change are arriving earlier, growing more intense and lasting longer, creating higher risks of illness and death for older people who are especially vulnerable to hot weather.

In America’s hottest big metro, older people accounted for most of the people who died last summer in broiling heat inside their homes, almost all without air conditioning. The heat dangers well known in greater Phoenix are becoming known familiar nationwide.

Some takeaways:

WHY ARE OLDER PEOPLE MORE LIKELY TO DIE FROM THE HEAT?

People ages 60 and over tend to have more chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and kidney problems than younger people. Those conditions can be made worse by high temperatures because as the heat index rises, it becomes harder to cool off the body.

Medicines that many older people use to treat chronic ailments, such as diuretics for high blood pressure, can also make them more vulnerable to the heat.

Older people can have mobility issues, which can make it hard to get help when it is needed during an extreme heat event. And they tend to live alone and be more socially isolated, which means other people may not know they are in distress and provide the relief they need before it is too late.

HOW DOES CLIMATE CHANGE FIGURE INTO THIS?

Global warming is leading to more intense and longer lasting heat waves in areas once accustomed to milder weather, with one study showing that dangerous heat in the coming years will increasingly hit many parts of the world at least three times as hard as climate change worsens.

Another study in recent years estimated more than a third of U.S. heat deaths each year can be attributed to human-caused global warming. It found more than 1,100 deaths a year from climate change-caused heat in U.S. cities where people often don’t have air conditioning or are not acclimated to hot weather.

WHAT ARE NOTABLE EXAMPLES OF HEAT-ASSOCIATED DEATHS?

The most dramatic example of a deadly heat-associated disaster in the United States occurred in Chicago in 1995. That summer, more than 700 people, most of them older Black people, died alone in apartments that were transformed into ovens.

Also in Chicago, three African American women in their 60s and 70s died in spring 2022 when the centrally controlled heating in their housing complex remained on and the air conditioning was off despite unseasonable 90-degree (32 C) weather in mid-May.

An undetermined number of older people died during the summer of 2021 when an unexpected heat wave swept across the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Canada reported that coroners confirmed more than 600 people died from the heat in neighboring British Columbia.

HOW CAN OLDER PEOPLE BE BETTER PROTECTED FROM THE HEAT?

Phoenix and many other U.S. cities have long had plans in place to protect people during heat waves, usually by taking steps like opening cooling centers and distributing bottled water.

Health clinics, utilities and local governments are finding new ways to help keep older people safe when temperatures soar.

The clinics are working to improve communication with at-risk people living alone so they know how to better handle the exteme heat. Local governments and n on-profit organizations also try to help with free repair or replacement of non-functioning air conditioners for low-income people.

In some jurisdictions, low-income people can also find private or public funds to pay utility bills so they can keep their air conditioning running. Chicago can also help keep the air conditioning on.

____ This report was written with the support of a journalism fellowship from The Gerontological Society of America, The Journalists Network on Generations and The John A. Hartford Foundation.

AP (New)

Associated Press

Shouts of ‘Shame! Shame!’ erupt in Arizona House as fight over abortion ban engulfs lawmakers

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Legislature devolved into shouts of “Shame! Shame!” on Wednesday as Republican lawmakers quickly shut down discussion on a proposed repeal of the state’s newly revived 1864 law that criminalizes abortion throughout pregnancy unless a woman’s life is at risk. The state Supreme Court cleared the way on Tuesday for enforcement […]

3 days ago

Associated Press

What to know about abortion in Arizona under the near-total 1864 ban

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Supreme Court gave the go-ahead Tuesday to prepare to enforce a long-dormant law that bans nearly all abortions, drastically altering the legal landscape for terminating pregnancies in a state likely to have a key role in the presidential election. The law predating Arizona’s statehood provides no exceptions for rape or […]

4 days ago

Associated Press

Democrats pounce on Arizona abortion ruling and say it could help them in November’s election

PHOENIX (AP) — Democrats pounced Tuesday on an Arizona Supreme Court ruling that permits enforcement of an 1864 law effectively banning abortion in the state, blaming former President Donald Trump and Republicans and pressing for political advantage on an issue that could dominate a critical 2024 battleground. The ruling permits doctors or others to be […]

4 days ago

Associated Press

Arizona can enforce an 1864 law criminalizing nearly all abortions, court says

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the state can enforce its long-dormant law criminalizing all abortions except when a mother’s life is at stake. The case examined whether the state is still subject to a law that predates Arizona’s statehood. The 1864 law provides no exceptions for rape or incest, but […]

4 days ago

Associated Press

Latino voters are coveted by both major parties. They also are a target for election misinformation

PHOENIX (AP) — As ranchera music filled the Phoenix recording studio at Radio Campesina, a station personality spoke in Spanish into the microphone. “Friends of Campesina, in these elections, truth and unity are more important than ever,” said morning show host Tony Arias. “Don’t let yourself be trapped by disinformation.” The audio was recorded as […]

6 days ago

Associated Press

Air ambulance crew administered drug to hot air balloon pilot after crash that killed 4, report says

PHOENIX (AP) — An autopsy report has been amended to show the pilot of a hot air balloon that plummeted in Arizona, killing him and three others, had been administered an anesthetic after the crash. The Pinal County Medical Examiner’s Office said earlier this week that toxicology tests showed Cornelius van der Walt had a […]

8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Takeaways about heat deaths and vulnerable older people