Annual heat-related deaths highest for people over age 60

Weather News

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Summer is here, and we’ve already seen our share of 80 and 90-degree days here in western Massachusetts. With rising temperatures, heat illness, and deaths related to extreme heat, increase as well.

Children are not the most at-risk population for heat deaths. According to Climate Central, more than 80 percent of heat’s victims are over the age of 60. Duke University research found 12,000 Americans die from heat-related causes every year, making it the top weather-related killer, more so than hurricanes and tornadoes.

Doctors say the best defense against heat deaths in seniors is prevention, by having family, friends and neighbors check on elders who are alone in high heat.

Summers are getting warmer, and have been for decades now. Climate change will prove most impactful on the baby boomer generation, which Climate Central defines as being born from 1946 to 1964. That generation will be hardest hit by rising temperatures, since that increases their vulnerability to extreme heat.

Without cutting carbon emissions, Climate Central predicts heat-related deaths will rise significantly in the Commonwealth in the future. 

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