Arizona heatwave affecting Black community at higher rates

·3 min read

Children, elderly people, the homeless and those with heart or kidney disease are most likely impacted by extreme temperatures

As the summer heats up it’s the Black community that will be impacted the most.

Arizona has reached record breaking temperatures this week and experts say the most vulnerable are at risk of death. Black people are among the most vulnerable, according to AP.

Children, elderly people, the homeless and those with heart or kidney disease are most likely impacted by extreme temperatures. Communities of color are most likely to be afflicted with those ailments.

“Extreme heat really exacerbates those kind of serious medical conditions,” said the executive director of the Washington nonprofit Healthcare Ready, Nicolette Louissaint. “It’s tough on people who don’t have a lot of money.”

Her organization helps communities manage natural disasters. They also fund cooling centers during extreme temperatures.

“We are activated for Phoenix and monitoring it closely,” said Louissaint.

Phoenix, Arizona has been experiencing abnormally high temperatures all week. The temperature hit a record 117 degrees on Friday and was at 118 degrees on Thursday. Records were also made in other areas across the West, such as Nevada and California. Death Valley rose to 128 degrees on Thursday.

The temperature remained at 110 degrees Fahrenheit at sunset on June 15, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for much of central Arizona, which is expected to remain in effect through the weekend. (Photo by Caitlin O’Hara/Getty Images)
The temperature remained at 110 degrees Fahrenheit at sunset on June 15, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for much of central Arizona, which is expected to remain in effect through the weekend. (Photo by Caitlin O’Hara/Getty Images)

According to a report from The Outline in 2018, hot summers have proven to be deadly for Black and brown communities in the past. Marginalized communities tend to live in areas of industry and waste management which push heat and contamination into the air. The report further added that in New York specifically, 50 percent of people who die from heat are Black.

According to experts the high temperatures are a result of man-made global warming. A senior scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, Gerald Meehl, said heat waves are becoming more common.

“As the average climate warms up from increasing human-produced greenhouse gases, we are seeing more intense, more frequent and longer lasting heat waves,” he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dizziness, nausea, confusion and headaches are signs of heat-related illness as reported by USA Today.

“If you’re in a place where you’re just not used to having such an abrupt heat elevation, your body’s not used to it, you’re not climatized. So your ability to dissipate heat, and to maintain a proper body temperature, is going to be challenged,” a health science clinical professor at UCLA, Dr. Daniel Vigil, told the publication.

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But there are ways to keep your body cool in extreme conditions.

“(People) shouldn’t just drink plain water all day, they should try to have something with it. A juice is fine, and this is where the sports drinks actually really come in handy,” said Dr. David Nester from the Mayo Clinic.

But if you do see someone become over heated try to cool them down as soon as possible.

“Cover their head with cold water to get that wet cooling going because every second that’s delayed, you have cells that are being destroyed and the mortality goes up significantly,” said clinical professor of emergency medicine at Stanford, Dr. Grant Lipman.

“Get a spray bottle, get a fan, put the two together and spray yourself with water and fanning it down. You’re basically inducing more evaporative cooling, so I think that’s the easy fix,” Lipman added.

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