Climate Change
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Extreme Heat and Climate Change

The effects of extreme heat are already being felt throughout California and the entire country. During the 2006 California heat wave, there were 16,166 more visits to the Emergency Department and 1,182 more hospitalizations than usual in the state. Similar extreme heat events are expected to increase over time. The health impacts of extreme heat events range from mild heat cramps to death. Certain populations, such as elderly people living alone, face much greater health risks during heat waves.

How does climate change affect extreme heat?

Temperatures will rise more dramatically as the amount of man-made greenhouse gases increase and shift the earth's temperature balance.

Visit CA Adapt for more detailed information regarding temperature change in California.

How does extreme heat impact health?

People suffer from heat-related illness when the body's natural temperature controls become overloaded.  As body temperature rises uncontrollably, damage can be done to an individual's brain or other vital organs.  Climate change and our built environment both contribute to extreme heat.

Without precautionary measures, as the number and duration of extreme heat events increase, there will be an increase in heat-related illnesses and deaths.  Learn more about identifying and preventing heat-related illness. More information can also be found in our collaborative report on Heat-Related Illness and Morbidity.

Who will be most affected?

Tracking California has worked to document what populations in California may be more vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat.  Maps showing the location of particularly vulnerable populations are available here.  Populations vulnerable to heat include:

What can you do?

We know that climate change will bring an increase in extreme heat for many communities.  There are ways to make sure you and your community are prepared and stay safe during heat spells.

Resources on climate change and extreme heat