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CDC sounds alarm over heat-related illnesses

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters (Dreamstime/TNS)
April 22, 2024

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is sounding the alarm over heat-related illness after “record-breaking high temperatures” scorched many regions across the United States last year.

According to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, emergency room visits triggered by extreme heat spiked and stayed high between 2018 and 2022.

“Extreme heat could be considered an invisible killer in so much as many people become exposed and vulnerable to its dangers quickly and often without warning,” said Patrick McHugh, M.D., according to Fox News Digital.

McHugh said people “shouldn’t worry” but urged Americans to “be aware and prepared for the dangers of heat waves.”

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According to, extreme heat “is a period of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees for at least two to three days.”

“In extreme heat your body works extra hard to maintain a normal temperature, which can lead to death. Extreme heat is responsible for the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards,” added.

The elderly, children, people dealing with illnesses and overweight individuals are more likely to suffer as a result of extreme heat.

During extreme heat, officials recommend the following to stay safe:

  • Never leave people or pets in a closed car on a warm day.
  • If air conditioning is not available in your home go to a cooling center.
  • Take cool showers or baths.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Use your oven less to help reduce the temperature in your home.
  • If you’re outside, find shade. Wear a hat wide enough to protect your face.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Avoid high-energy activities or work outdoors, during midday heat, if possible.
  • Check on family members, older adults and neighbors.
  • Watch for heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
  • Consider pet safety. If they are outside, make sure they have plenty of cool water and access to comfortable shade. Asphalt and dark pavement can be very hot to your pet’s feet.