EPA Guide Offers Recommendations For Dealing With Summer Heat

There are a number of steps that can be taken to protect against the number one weather-related cause of death in the United States -- excessive heat. EPA announced on June 21 it released a guide to help people cope with excessive heat.

EPA's Excessive Heat Events Guidebook summarizes heat-related health impacts and highlights best practices that can save lives. The guidebook provides public-assistance options for emergency managers, state and local officials, and meteorologists.

This guidebook offers background information on "excessive heat event" (EHE) risks and impacts to roughly assess potential local health risks from EHEs. EHE conditions are defined by summertime weather that is substantially hotter and/or more humid than average for a location at that time of year.

In addition, the guide provides a menu of notification and response actions to consider when developing or enhancing a local EHE program.

The 2005 U.S. hurricane season was a stark reminder that inadequate public and private preparation and response to well-forecasted and well-understood extreme meteorological phenomena can have severe public health consequences, EPA stated.

The remaining public health challenge for EHEs is to develop and implement meaningful EHE notification and response programs that increase public awareness and lessen future adverse health impacts, the agency stated.

The guidebook can be accessed at http://epa.gov/heatisland/about/heatguidebook.html.

For tips that the public and community officials can use when preparing for and responding to excessive heat, go to http://epa.gov/heatisland/about/pdf/EHEguide-brief_final.pdf.

This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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