Record-setting Texas heat sends hundreds of people to emergency rooms - The Guardian

Temperature records fell across Texas during the last two weeks, putting June 2023 on pace to be the hottest June ever in some parts of the state. From the border city of Del Rio to the capital city, Austin, temperatures hit triple digits for days straight.

Emergency medical providers are responding to heat-related illnesses as extreme temperatures become more frequent and prolonged. On 20 June, at least 350 people visited emergency departments across Texas because of heat illnesses, according to state health officials. That was the highest number of ER visits for heat-related illnesses on any single day in 2022 or 2023 so far. Not all hospitals and clinics are included in the state data, so the total is probably an undercount.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in Texas cities also reported high numbers of calls for heat-related illnesses this month. Houston EMS fielded 416 calls related to heat illnesses in the first 23 days of June. Even Texans accustomed to hot weather have been taken aback by the dangerous conditions.

The heatwave has posed a health risk to millions of Texans, especially those who work outside or are homeless. While final autopsies are still pending, several deaths have already been linked to the extreme heat. A utility lineman died on 19 June in east Texas after he had been treated for a heat-related illness. A Dallas postal worker died on 20 June. The next day, a 17-year-old died after collapsing at a state park outside Amarillo. A 14-year-old male hiker died on 23 June in Big Bend national park, where temperatures topped 119F, and his stepfather died when he crashed his vehicle seeking help.

Emergency responders have also found several deceased individuals in the desert along the US-Mexico border in recent days. Since 22 June, five bodies have been recovered in Sunland Park, New Mexico, just over the border from Texas and a common crossing point for migrants in the El Paso and Juárez area. The causes of death and individuals’ identities have not been disclosed.

Climate change made the extreme heatwave more likely to occur, according to the Climate Shift Index, a tool developed by the science non-profit Climate Central to estimate how much more likely a specific weather event is because of climate change.

Last year, a study found one additional day of extreme heat, or with a heat index of over 90F, was associated with a 0.07 increase in the mortality rate (the number of deaths per 100,000 people).

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The Guardian

Locations: Texas Austin, TX Del Rio, TX Houston, TX 

Organizations: Climate Central 

Tags: Extreme Heat Climate Change Public Health Migration and Immigration 

Type: Headlines