Our Office of Environmental Health is one of only 8 states awarded a cooperative agreement with the CDC for adapting to extreme weather and its effects on public health. Heat is the number one killer among all weather related causes of death across the country and in Arizona… more than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and wildfires combined. It doesn’t get much attention because it’s hard to take a picture of heat- but it’s easy to take a picture of hurricanes and tropical storms.

Photo Courtesy AP Gerry Broome

Our Extreme Weather and Public Health program focuses on heat related illnesses.   In addition to enhancing surveillance and strengthening ADHS’ communication plan during Extreme Heat Advisory Days, the program is developing innovative toolkits targeting identified vulnerable populations.  Our School and Older Adult toolkits are already done and our Outdoor Worker toolkit is on the way.

During a recent site-visit, the CDC showed tons of interest in our toolkits… and our program is meeting with CDC to develop a method to evaluate them.  The current body of literature on state level interventions for heat related illness is relatively weak… and we’ve become a pioneering state in developing a viable approach to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing the impact of extreme weather on public health.  Well Done.