4.3 Identifying Heat Vulnerability through Temperature Thresholds in North Carolina

Thursday, 12 June 2014: 8:30 AM
Church Ranch (Denver Marriott Westminster)
Margaret Kovach, Southeast Regional Climate Center, Chapel Hill, NC; and C. E. Konrad and C. M. Fuhrmann

Heat kills more people than any other weather-related event in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year. In North Carolina, heat-related illness (HRI), a precursor to heat mortality, accounts for over 2,000 yearly emergency department (ED) admissions. Most of these ED admissions occur on days with climatologically normal summer conditions. However, rates of HRI ED admissions increase substantially on days with abnormally high heat conditions. In this study, temperature thresholds are calculated to identify temperatures that result in both high numbers of ED visits and high rates of ED visits. Temperature thresholds are also identified for categories of gender and age to determine the differential impact of heat stress on the population. By identifying temperature thresholds, this research allows for a targeted heat warning system in North Carolina.
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