Heat Waves and Power Failures Are Creating a Deadly Summer Threat in U.S. Cities
In recent years, summer heat waves have gotten worse, bringing an increase in power failures with them. Now new research has identified another severe threat to city workers during the hottest months of the year.
According to research published in Environmental Science and Technology, computer models studied three large U.S. cities – Atlanta, Detroit and Phoenix – and found that a combination of blackout and heat wave would expose at least two-thirds of residents to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Specifically:
While cooling centers are available in each city to those who need it, they’re only set up to accommodate up to 2% of the local population.
Excessive heat is considered the most dangerous severe-weather event type, and climate change is intensifying them. One estimate says heat kills around 12,000 Americans each year. Combined with the fact that since 2015 the number of blackouts has doubled – especially in the summer when air conditioning causes increased strain on electrical grids – and it’s a deadly combination that all urban organizations will need to prepare for.