75 Million Americans Under Heat Advisories as Agencies Warn of Heat Stroke

New York’s governor activates the state National Guard to assist with heat-related emergencies.
75 Million Americans Under Heat Advisories as Agencies Warn of Heat Stroke
A National Weather Service map with heat-related advisories as of June 18, 2024. (National Weather Service Heat Risk)
Jack Phillips

The National Weather Service (NWS) has warned that tens of millions of Americans are currently under heat advisories as high temperatures continue to impact the Midwest and East Coast this week.

A tracker run by the NWS shows that some 76 million people are in areas where the agency declared either an Excessive Heat Warning, a Heat Advisory, or an Excessive Heat Watch.

Much of the Midwest and Northeast was under heat warnings or watches. Officials announced the opening of cooling centers and urged people to limit outdoor activities when possible and to check in with family members and neighbors who may be vulnerable to the heat.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said on June 18 that she has activated the National Guard to assist in any heat emergencies that develop over the next several days.

“This is a time of significant risk and we’re doing our best to make sure that all lives are protected,” she said during a morning briefing.

In the meantime, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) warned Americans to be aware of heat stroke or heat exhaustion, adding that “extreme heat” is “the leading weather-related cause of death in the U.S.”
Data compiled by the NWS shows that excessive heat kills 183 Americans per year on average, outpacing the average number of people killed by floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and lightning.

“However, heat-related illnesses and deaths are largely preventable with proper planning, education, and action,” FEMA said on June 17, adding that the people most at risk include older adults, people who work outdoors, people with certain health issues, and individuals who don’t have access to air conditioning.

The agency then advised people to keep their children or pets from staying alone in hot vehicles, staying hydrated, using air conditioning, and checking air quality before going outside.

“Fans alone aren’t enough in high heat and high humidity. FEMA encourages people and especially those that are vulnerable to go somewhere with air conditioning or visit a public place like the library, museum, or shopping mall to stay cool,” the agency stated.

“Other ways to keep cool include wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing, taking a cool shower or bath to cool off and if you are at home, keep curtains closed to keep the heat out,” FEMA said in its news release, which added that power systems could be impacted due to too many people using their air conditioning at the same time.

If there is a power outage, “use only flashlights or battery-powered lanterns for emergency lighting,” the agency said. “Never use candles during a blackout or power outage due to extreme risk of fire.”

Heat Stroke Signs

Health officials in multiple states this week noted that those at most risk of heat stroke or heat exhaustion include infants, younger children, older adults, people with mental health problems, pregnant women, and those with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and poor blood circulation.
Symptoms of heat stroke include a body temperature of 103 degrees or higher; red, hot, dry, or damp skin; a rapid and strong pulse; nausea, confusion; dizziness; headache, or a loss of consciousness, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health agencies.

People suffering from heat stroke should receive immediate medical attention and 911 should be called, authorities say.

If someone appears to be suffering signs of heat stroke, described as a life-threatening condition, they should be cooled down by any means necessary before medical attention is administered. Officials recommend using a garden hose, cool cloths such as a towel, and that the person be moved to a colder place.

“While all heat-related illnesses can require medical attention, heat stroke is always a medical emergency. If you experience or notice someone else experiencing the symptoms of heat stroke, call 9-1-1 and get the person to a cooler place right away,” says the Ohio Department of Health.

Heat Exhaustion Signs

People suffering from heat exhaustion will have cold, pale, and clammy skin; sweating profusely; have a weak and fast pulse; muscle cramps, dizziness; headache, vomiting; nausea; or weakness or tiredness.

As with people suffering from heat stroke, individuals showing signs of heat exhaustion should go to a cool place, have loose clothing,  sip water, and if possible, take a cool bath.

If the exhausted person starts to vomit, if their condition worsens, or if it lasts for more than an hour, medical attention is likely needed.

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: https://twitter.com/jackphillips5