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Number Of Extreme Heat Days Climbs Placing Young, Elderly At Risk

The creosote bush shown in the desert in Palm Springs, Calif., Jan. 26, 2002.

Credit: Associated Press

Above: The creosote bush shown in the desert in Palm Springs, Calif., Jan. 26, 2002.

A new report says climbing temperatures are taking their toll on public health.

The Natural Resources Defense Council report tracked days where the temperatures are hotter than 90 percent of the summer days measured. It counted the number of those days in June, July and August.

San Diego County had nine to 14 extreme heat days per summer. Imperial County gets more than 14.

The Center for Public Health determined communities need to take steps to protect people vulnerable to extreme heat.

"Map heat risks and vulnerable heat populations to make sure cooling centers are in the right locations. And build social cohesion so that neighbors are looking out for the isolated and elderly that are at most risk of heat deaths," said Linda Rudolph of the Center for Climate Change and Health.

The nation's oldest and youngest residents face the most risk.

"Several studies from the United States, Canada and Korea have found a positive association between increased temperature and infant mortality. The reasons for this aren't completely understood but may be due to the immaturity of infants thermos regulatory mechanisms and their inability to care for themselves or express their needs," said Samantha Ahdoot, a pediatrician at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The study did not measure extreme heat days during September and October when the San Diego region typically experiences the region's hottest average temperatures.

Rising global temperatures are increasing the number of extreme heat days during the summer in California and the rest of the nation.

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