The Tracking Network collects data on heat-related deaths and illnesses throughout the United States and provides information so people can protect themselves.
Extreme heat events, or heat waves, are the most common cause of weather-related deaths in the United States. They cause more deaths each year than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined.
The number of heat-related deaths is rising. For example, in 1995, 465 heat-related deaths occurred in Chicago. From 1999 to 2003, a total of 3,442 people died of heat-related deaths, an average of about 688 deaths a year.
Heat-related death or illnesses are preventable if you follow a few simple steps.
- Stay in an air-conditioned area during the hottest hours of the day. If you don't have air conditioning in your home, go to a public place such as a shopping mall or a library to stay cool. Cooling stations and senior centers are also available in many large cities for people of all ages.
- Wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
- Drink water often. Don't wait until you are thirsty.
- Avoid unnecessary hard work or activities if you are outside or in a building without air-conditioning.
- Avoid unnecessary sun exposure. When in the sun, wear a hat, preferably with a wide brim.
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