As brutal heat waves wash over both the United States and Europe, the Biden administration has launched the Heat.gov website to help Americans and government officials understand the impact and health risks of extreme heat.
The National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS) launched the new website on July 26, bringing together all of the Federal agencies and programs focused on extreme heat resilience.
“President Biden has directed us to respond to the extreme heat gripping the nation. Extreme heat is a silent killer, yet it affects more Americans than any other weather emergency – particularly our nation’s most vulnerable,” Gina McCarthy, White House national climate advisor, said in a statement.
“Heat.gov is an exciting new and accessible website designed to help everyone become engaged with their community, their state-level government, and Federal partners, to take actions that can reduce the deadly health impacts of extreme heat,” she added.
Extreme heat is the leading weather-related cause of death in the United States, killing over 700 people per year. As climate change contributes to more frequent and longer heat waves, those living in urban heat islands or very rural neighborhoods are disproportionately affected – as are Native American and Black communities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Heat.gov offers maps, data, and informational tools like the Extreme Heat Vulnerability Mapping Tool, which allows users to determine the social vulnerability of every U.S. county. It also features the Climate Prediction Center Probabilistic Extremes Forecast, which provides useful information for communities to better prepare for and respond to extreme heat events.
“For far too long, our most vulnerable populations are the ones who bear the brunt of extreme heat,” said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, who established the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity at HHS. “Heat.gov provides real tools and resources that can help people who are suffering. This is one more important step the administration is taking to address climate change’s impact on our health and our lives.”