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Heat Stress

Nationwide, extreme heat events, or heat waves, are the most common cause of weather-related deaths. They cause more deaths each year than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes combined. Vermont has not yet experienced the number of prolonged extreme heat events that many other states have. As climate change continues, heat stress will become a more significant risk in the lives of Vermont residents.

Heat Stress Data presented in Vermont Tracking are annual data for the months of May through September to focus on heat events from weather-related causes. The data are organized in three categories:

Hospitalizations for heat stress

Hospitalizations data for heat stress include inpatient admissions of Vermont residents to hospitals in Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York. Hospitalizations data do not include people who are treated in outpatient settings. An admission for heat stress is defined as having a principal diagnosis, cause of injury or other diagnosis related to heat stress during the months May through September.

The numbers of hospitalizations for heat stress have been small for residents of Vermont during the decade from 2000 through 2009. The total number of Vermont residents admitted to hospitals in Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York for heat stress has been fewer than six each year for all but three years during the period (2001, 2002, 2008)

When numbers of cases are fewer than six, Vermont Tracking does not show exact counts. With fewer than six cases, it is almost impossible to tell random changes from true changes in the data. Reporting small numbers is also avoided to maintain confidentiality of individuals.

View Data by clicking here and choosing “Climate Change” from the drop-down menu.

Emergency department visits for heat stress

Vermont Tracking data show the number of emergency room visits to Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and Massachusetts hospitals by Vermont residents for heat stress during the months of May through September. Data for emergency department (ED) visits are provided starting in 2003. In 2003, there was a change in how hospitals coded ED data for heat stress. For this reason, data for years before 2003 cannot be compared to data from 2003 onward.

In Vermont, the number of visits to hospital emergency rooms for heat stress is greater than the number of people admitted for inpatient care, but still remains fairly small. When numbers of cases are fewer than six, Vermont Tracking does not show exact counts. With fewer than six cases, it is almost impossible to tell random changes from true changes in the data. Reporting small numbers is also avoided to maintain confidentiality of individuals.

View Data by clicking here and choosing “Climate Change” from the drop-down menu.

Deaths from heat-related events

Since 2000, heat has been identified as an underlying or contributing cause of death on only a handful of Vermont residents' death certificates. In order to prevent identification of individuals, health information is not displayed on Vermont’s tracking portal when it is based on fewer than six cases. As a result, heat-related death data is not shown on Vermont’s tracking portal.

View Data by clicking here and choosing “Climate Change” from the drop-down menu.

Protect yourself during extreme heat events

Climate Change & Extreme HeatStay Cool

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CDC Tracking Network Ask Tracking 1-800-439-8550 or click to email AHS-VDH-VTEPHT@state.vt.us CDC Tracking Network