Today, the Biden Administration through the interagency National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS) launched Heat.gov, a new website to provide the public and decision-makers with clear, timely and science-based information to understand and reduce the health risks of extreme heat. Heat.gov will provide a one-stop hub on heat and health for the nation and is a priority of President Biden’s National Climate Task Force and its Interagency Working Group on Extreme Heat.
Extreme heat has been the greatest weather-related cause of death in the U.S. for the past 30 years — more than hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding or extreme cold — killing over 700 people per year. In addition, the heat crisis does not affect people equally. Extreme heat mortality disproportionately affects Native American and Black communities, as well as those living in the urban core or very rural neighborhoods, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The launch of Heat.gov is just the latest measure to address extreme heat. With funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden Administration has invested in programs to build resilient infrastructure that helps communities withstand extreme heat, drought, wildfires and other heat-related hazards. Additionally, the Administration has made record investments to help families with their household energy costs, including summer cooling.
“President Biden has directed us to respond to the extreme heat gripping the nation. Extreme heat is a silent killer, yet it affects more Americans than any other weather emergency — particularly our nation’s most vulnerable,” said Gina McCarthy, White House National Climate Advisor. “Heat.gov is an exciting new and accessible website designed to help everyone become engaged with their community, their state-level government, and federal partners, to take actions that can reduce the deadly health impacts of extreme heat.”
To serve the American people, Heat.gov offers maps, data and information from across disciplines, from inside and outside of government, that will enable informed decisions by communities on a daily basis and allow planning weeks and months ahead. The site features heat information from across federal agencies, including heat forecasts from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service, the new national Climate and Health Outlook developed by the Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC’s Heat and Health Tracker, as well as heat planning and preparedness guides. Heat.gov also includes information on NIHHIS programs; events and news articles; heat and health program funding opportunities; and information to help at-risk communities.
“Addressing the climate crisis, including extreme heat, has been a top priority for the Biden-Harris Administration, and at the Department of Commerce, we have been working to use every tool at our disposal,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Heat.gov leverages innovation and data to help deliver timely and accurate information to the public. As extreme heat conditions impact millions of Americans, this site will help ensure that all our communities, including our most vulnerable, have access to the data, tools and resources they need to mitigate heat impacts.”
July 2021 was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth, and summers are getting hotter and deadlier. The annual average temperature of the contiguous United States has already warmed over the past few decades and is projected to rise by 5°F – 8.7°F by the end of this century. Heat-related illnesses and death are largely preventable with proper planning, monitoring and education. City officials, the growing number of heat resilience officers, as well as doctors, nurses, first responders, researchers and the general public, are increasingly requesting federal support to understand the complex and dangerous impacts of extreme heat. Heat.gov helps to meet this growing demand for authoritative heat and health tools and information.
“For far too long, our most vulnerable populations are the ones who bear the brunt of extreme heat,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, who established the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity at HHS as directed by President Biden’s first executive order on tackling the climate crisis. “Heat.gov provides real tools and resources that can help people who are suffering. This is one more important step the Administration is taking to address climate change’s impact on our health and our lives.”
“Extreme heat is a global health threat, and due to human-caused climate change, it’s getting worse,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “Reducing the risks of extreme heat in our country requires a whole-of-government effort, which is why NOAA has led a large federal coalition to create, launch and manage Heat.gov. This website will improve public health and help us build a Climate-Ready Nation.”
“Currently, few health systems have heat action plans and heat exposure is rarely integrated into real-time clinical health decision-making for patients,” said Cecilia Sorensen, M.D., associate professor and director of the Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education offsite link at Columbia University. “With more frequent, intense and longer lasting heat waves, there is an urgent need for increased health system preparedness to meet the growing burden of heat-related illness. These new tools will allow health systems easy access to the information they need to promote climate-readiness and heat-resiliency, ultimately improving patient and community health outcomes while reducing system-wide impacts and improving the efficiency of health systems.”
Heat.gov is a collaboration of NIHHIS’ federal government partners, including NOAA, CDC, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
NOAA’s Climate Program Office and National Weather Service, in partnership with the CDC, founded NIHHIS to bring together all federal agencies and programs focused on societal heat resilience to jointly improve federal, state and local capacity to reduce the health, economic and infrastructural impacts of extreme heat.
Heat.gov was created in collaboration with Esri, a geographic information system company. The website is hosted on Esri’s cloud-based geospatial platform, which allows easy access to a range of features, such as localized heat information, links to heat tools across the federal government, and an interactive map of the NOAA and NIHHIS urban heat island mapping campaigns. The site supports open data access, enabling communities and planners to integrate federal heat information into their own decision-making.