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Tuesday, October 4, 2022
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Biden Administration Launches Website to Help Americans Deal with Heat

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The federal government hopes the new website can help people and local governments beat the increasingly deadly heat of an ever-warming world. | Image by Market Watch

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Extreme heat has been the No.1 weather-related cause of death in the U.S. for the past three decades, killing over 700 people yearly — more than hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, or extreme cold, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) statement. With that in mind, the Biden administration launched a new website Tuesday aimed at helping Americans handle the excessive temperatures.

Heat.gov is an interagency project with information on heat conditions across the country, featuring interactive maps, forecasts, and advice on mitigating risks amid high temperatures.

The new website will also help local governments decide whether it is too hot for road work, help farmers looking for planting and harvesting advice, and even help moms “trying to decide this summer: Is it safe for your kids to play outside or to go to summer camp?” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said.

Most heat-related illnesses and deaths can be prevented with planning, preparation, and education, the NOAA said.

“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,” said Gina McCarthy, White House national climate advisor.

“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,” McCarthy explained.

The announcement of the website comes days after more than 100 million people in the U.S. were under some form of heat warning or advisory over the weekend. On Tuesday, 38.1 million people were still under such alerts.

Over the last month, more than 1,400 daily high-temperature records and more than 2,850 warmest overnight low-temperature records have been broken or tied, according to an Axios report.

June of this year was the second hottest June in the Northern Hemisphere on record, coming in at 2.81 degrees Fahrenheit above average, according to the NOAA.

Several federal agencies collaborated in making the website, including the National Integrated Heat Health Information System, NOAA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The website follows other Biden administration initiatives aimed at dealing with extreme heat. The administration has provided taxpayer dollars to help with air conditioning for low-income residents, grants to build new cooling centers, upcoming rules for workers outside in the heat, and support for cities to cool urban heat islands with more tree cover.

Outside experts said the multi-agency website and actions to manage extreme heat are long overdue.

“This is an important step for elevating the risks of heat,” said University of Georgia meteorology professor and former president of the American Meteorological Society Marshall Shepherd. “For too long, heat has been one of the deadliest weather hazards, but has languished from an urgency standpoint.”

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