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Air Conditioners No Longer Prevent Death from Heatstroke in U.S.

Experts say air conditioning in the South is becoming less reliable and effective.

By HERZ onVocal BLYTHEPublished about a month ago 3 min read
(Photo Credit: Andy Watkins on Unsplash)

It’s getting harder and harder for the Climate Change Deniers to keep a straight face. Today’s reporting by the Guardian newspaper that [air conditioning] is no longer a viable safety valve against heatstroke and extreme heat events came as quite a shock to many people. But the story is much bigger than just the sudden futility of air conditioning.

According to PBS, last year (2023) set a record in the United States for heat deaths. But 2024 is on track to break that record!

Official death certificates of more than 2,300 people who died in the United States last summer mention the effects of excessive heat — the highest number in 45 years of records — according to an Associated Press analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Summer heat waves are being reported in places like Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida — nothing unusual for the South. But this year (2024) the heat is so bad that not even sitting in an air conditioned room can save older people and babies from heatstroke.

One New Orleans woman chirped: “I don’t have to go out in the sun. I get a suntan inside!”

It’s a funny quip. But it’s not.

According to the Guardian’s numbers, heat like a furnace was the cause of some 11,000 deaths in the United States last year. Another 120,000 people (in all age ranges) were forced to visit hospital emergency rooms due to the hellish temperatures.

Every since air conditioning became a national sensation in American homes in the 1960's, it’s been a trusted expectation that even people the most vulnerable to heatstroke (elderly and toddlers) would be safe and sound during heat events thanks to air conditioning. But that’s no longer true.

And what’s worse — Physicians are finding that when there’s an extreme heat event — more people die in their homes than anywhere else. It’s gotten so bad they don’t even make it to the hospital.

Jaime Madrigano, a public health researcher at John Hopkins University says, “The home environment can actually be a substantial risk in and of itself.”

Some Scientists have begun to warn of a ‘Heat Katrina’ — a mass triggered heat event that could murder thousands of people in one fiery heat flash.

According to those experts, many storm-battered homes in the South lack sufficient insulation. In a multi-state heat wave, things could go incredibly wrong. Many cooling systems are not built powerful enough to handle the intensity of heat we’ve suddenly been getting with climate change. There is also the fact that power grids are notorious for stumbling and failing during periods of high demand.

Studies show that a two-day blackout in a city like Phoenix, Arizona could result in a massive death count of 12,000 human heat strokes alone!

This is to say nothing of the high number of pets and other animals that would be taken out by such a Heat event.

Less talked about — but still quite important — is the sudden uptick in minor heat illness. Symptoms that may not kill or make a person dysfunction, but symptoms nonetheless that can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, fatigue and overall weakness.

“The types of cooling systems that we sold 10 years ago are not able to keep up with the new weather we have,” Simi Hoque, an architectural engineer and heating expert at Drexel University, told the Guardian.

He points out that the average American cannot afford the stronger more modern cooling systems — and even if they could afford to buy one — the cost of running it every day would be astronomical.

As climate change continues marching on across the United States, and our seasons get hotter, longer, more intense and hotter — this story promises to be a crucially important one. It’s something we need to start taking a lot more seriously.


NOTE: This story originally appears on our Medium page linked here:


About the Creator


This is Blythe. I write Current Event stories on Vocal that mirror my HERZ magaZine account on Medium. Thanks for visiting my page.

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Comments (1)

  • Sweileh 888about a month ago

    Interesting and delicious content, keep posting more now

HERZ onVocal BLYTHEWritten by HERZ onVocal BLYTHE

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