Saturday, July 23, 2011

Still hot enough for you?

Follow-up to Hot enough for you? All videos from WXYZ on YouTube.

Three people are now being said to have died as a result of the heat wave.

In the clip, reporter Mary Conway not only describes the most recent of the three deaths from heat here in Detroit, but also that every hospital she contacted had heat-related admissions. That's no surprise to me, as I've blogged about heat being a health problem before. Remember this?

Study details how heat waves drive hospital admissions
Importantly, the study identifies temperature thresholds that, when surpassed, tend to prompt increases in the incidence of particular conditions.
by Terry Devitt
June 22, 2011
In cities, the number of human deaths caused by heat waves is often the barometer of summer weather severity.

Yet mortality in urban areas is only a partial measure of the human toll of extreme hot weather. Now, a new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Purdue University and the National Center for Climatic Research and appearing this week (June 22, 2011) in the journal Climatic Change, documents the medical conditions aggravated by hot weather, the age groups most affected, and forecasts an increase in hospital admissions in urban areas due to predicted climate change and accompanying weather extremes.

The study, which utilizes meteorological, air pollution and hospital admission data for the years 1989-2005 for the city of Milwaukee, is important because it documents the primary medical causes of heat-related hospital admission. The report also assesses potential future climate change and accompanying hot weather extremes and how those may affect vulnerable populations in the urban Midwestern United States.
Heat-sensitive illnesses and conditions identified by Patz’s group include diabetes, urinary tract and renal diseases such as kidney stones, respiratory conditions, accidents and suicide attempts. Surprisingly, the study did not find an increase in the incidence of hospital admissions due to heart disease, but Patz and his colleagues speculate that acute episodes of heart disease may be more lethal and are therefore reflected in records of mortality. Mortality records were intentionally excluded from the current study.
I've mentioned to my students that more people die during heat waves than die during severe cold snaps, then point out the irony of the policies of governments and utilities that subsidize heat in the winter, but not air conditioning in the summer. That's because, as one of my students put it, "air conditioning is considered to be a luxury." Tell that to my wife. She would be absolutely miserable without it.
That's not to minimize deaths from heat. The current heatwave has had its share, as this story from ABC News points out.
In the Chicago area, the heat may be responsible for at least six deaths, including an 18-year-old boy who was riding his bike and running and may not have drunk enough water.

An 18-year-old landscaper died Thursday night in Louisville, Ky., with a body temperature of 110 degrees, the coroner said, according to The Associated Press.
The Emergency Room at the Framingham Hospital outside Boston is seeing twice as many patients.

"Death from heat is greater than death from tornadoes or hurricanes or from the cold," said Dr. David Morris, who works at Framingham Union Hospital.

Doctors warn that in these conditions, the body, even at rest, can lose a quart of fluid an hour. They say to wear light clothing, don't go outside unless you have to and drink plenty of water.
Ferndale, which has had power outages since Wednesday, when I drove there to get dinner and found the downtown blacked out, prompting me to drive to Troy instead, kept a cooling center open to reduce the health impact of the heat.

DTE will shut off power to a large section of Ferndale for 6 hours tonight.

Ferndale isn't alone. Redford Township is having their issues with power outages, and they're not getting the "help is coming" message Ferndale got.

Redford still without power

At least Ferndale's power problems seem to have a happy ending coming.

Ferndale Power Problems

Finally, this heat wave and the associated health problems and power outages have become another teachable moment for me. I showed my students "The End of Suburbia" this week and one of the events described in that movie was the 2003 blackout that happened during a heat wave. The late Russell Simmons mentioned that the power grid was most vulnerable between 4:00 PM and 5:00 PM on hot days because all three sets of customers, residential, commercial, and industrial, were online at the same time. According to one of my students, the power went out in Ferndale at 5:00 PM on Wednesday. He had watched "The End of Suburbia" the day before and he recalled what Simmons said. Well, that's one way to learn a lesson--the hard way!

At least NOAA has some good news.
A general cooling trend can be expected for Sunday and Monday with a return to near average conditions for late July.
Stay cool, everyone!

No comments:

Post a Comment