On a national level from 1979 to 1999, 45% of all heat related deaths in the United States were realized by those 65 or older.
In Chicago, 1995, nearly 700 deaths were attributed to the heat. An epidemiologic investigation of the heat wave identified advanced age and an inability to care for oneself as major risk factors for heat-related death.
When another heat wave in 1999 occurred in Chicago, this time the city was better prepared with calls to at-risk seniors and a door-to-door effort made to save fragile lives.
In the summer 2003, I recall being very disturbed by reports of heat related deaths in Europe. Only to find out years later that over 30,000 heat related deaths occurred that summer, with some estimates suggesting that over 70,000 people died with a disproportionate amount being those over the age of 65.
We have to anticipate these circumstances and take action as a society to respond better.
Why wait for the heat waves to hit before calling our residents most at risk? Why not call in advance and assess the true readiness of each resident?
What about the postal service getting more involved?
How can churches, synagogues, and mosques get more involved? As the longest day of the year comes upon us, is there a way to start a worldwide Beat the Heat Day where neighbors connect with other neighbors to ensure that if and when a heat wave comes, needless death does not follow.