Relationships between Temperature and Heat-Related Illness across North Carolina

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner
Tuesday, 6 January 2015: 4:45 PM
226AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Charles E. Konrad II, Southeast Regional Climate Center, Chapel Hill, NC; and M. Kovach and C. 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) accounts for over 2,000 yearly emergency department (ED) admissions. In this study, data from the North Carolina Disease Event Tracking and Epidemiologic Collect Tool (NC DETECT) is used to identify empirical relationships between temperature and morbidity across North Carolina across six warm seasons (May-September) from 2007 through 2012. Relationships are explored across different regions (e.g. coastal plain, piedmont, mountains) and demographics (e.g. gender, age, socioeconomic level, and rural/urban) to determine the differential impact of heat stress on population. Research to date reveals that most of these heat-related admissions occur on days with climatologically normal temperatures; however, admission rates increase substantially on days with abnormally high daily maximum temperatures. The highest admission rates are found in rural areas where labor-intensive crops are grown, and the biggest differences in rates are identified between the counties with the highest and lowest rates of poverty. The empirical relationships identified in this study will be used in a web-based heat vulnerability tool that translates National Weather Service (NWS) temperature forecasts into useful information regarding the probability of public health emergencies (e.g. spikes in heat related morbidity).