Heat kills more people than we think every year

With heat, the risk of death increases. It’s been established for a long time. But researchers say today that the consequences of rising temperatures due to global warming have been underestimated. According to them, the number of heat-related deaths is at least ten times the number that specialists imagined.

The summer has just begun. And a first heat peak is already expected in France this week. Temperatures are expected to reach 30 ° C across the country. Predictions that are good for morale after a sometimes dismal June. But which, from the point of view of researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC, Canada) should rather worry us.

Their work indeed concludes that heat kills more than previously thought specialists. In the United States, for example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 600 deaths can be attributed to it each year. But UBC researchers arrived at an average of 5,600 deaths between 1997 and 2006 – taking into account only 3/5 of the population. A figure based solely on an association number of deaths, whatever the cause, and heat.

Fight the heat at the same time as the coronavirus

There is no need to necessarily reach record temperatures. But the risk strongly depends on where you live. Temperatures of around 30 ° C cause fewer deaths in the cities where they are frequent than in those where they are even more exceptional. This is mainly due to the concentration of adaptive equipment such as air conditioning systems, for example.

And the coronavirus crisis may well worsen a situation already made difficult by global warming. “Providing air-conditioned spaces accessible to the public on hot days now carries additional risks and requires new protocols to protect people from heat and infection,” said Gregory Wellenius, professor of environmental health, in a statement from the University of Boston (United States).