Heat wave in U.S. West threatens health in vulnerable communities

Extreme temperatures blistering the American West aren’t just annoying, they’re deadly.

The record-breaking temperatures are a weather emergency, scientists and health care experts say, with heat responsible for more deaths in the U.S. than all natural disasters combined.

With more frequent and intense heat waves likely due to climate change and the worst drought in modern history, they say communities must better protect the vulnerable, like the homeless and those who live in ethnically and racially diverse low-income neighborhoods.

People, plants, and animals need cooler temperatures at night to recover from the stress of high heat. But with overnight temperatures above 32 degrees Celsius, that’s not happening.

Phoenix has been baking in temperatures, hitting a record 48 degrees Celsius. Daily records were also set across the U.S. West, such as Nevada and California, including 53 degrees Celsius in Death Valley.

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