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Sharks: 2 - Extreme Heat: 2,300

Tired of hearing about extreme heat? Then let's compare extreme heat to shark attacks and make it more interesting.

Shark attacks are reported by every US news outlet, but compared to heat illness, shark attacks are miniscule. In 2023, there were 36 unprovoked shark bites on humans in the U.S., two of which were fatal. In 2023, there were about 2,300 people in the United States who died with their death certificates mentioning the effects of excessive heat. This was the highest number in 45 years of records. Some experts suggest that the real number could be much higher. For instance, one estimate suggests that about 11,000 heat deaths likely occurred in the U.S. in 2023. These figures underscore the serious public health impact of extreme heat.

2023 US Killer Scoreboard: Sharks: 2 - Heat: 2,300

Keep this in mind when you binge-stream Shark Week !

Extreme heat is typically defined as a period of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees for at least two to three days. Because some places are hotter than others, this depends on what’s considered average for a particular location at that time of year. Humid and muggy conditions can make it seem hotter than it really is.

In 2021, heat-related deaths increased to 1,600, a 59% uptick from only four years earlier, and a 439% increase from 2004. Provisional data from the CDC shows that 1,714 US deaths in 2022 were due to “heat-related” causes.

These numbers highlight the serious impact of extreme heat on public health. It's important to take precautions during hot weather to prevent heat-related illnesses. Remember, some people, such as older adults, the very young, and people with certain health conditions, are at greater risk.

Watch out for those sharks, but more importantly, pay attention to the heat.

Stay Cool!

  • Stay in an air-conditioned place as much as possible.

  • If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library—even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.

  • Use your stove and oven less to maintain a cooler temperature in your home.

  • Take a cool shower or bath to cool off.

  • Wear lightweight, cotton, loose-fitting clothing.

Stay Hydrated

  • Drink plenty of fluids even if you don't feel thirsty.

  • Avoid alcohol or liquids containing large amounts of sugar.

Plan Ahead

  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully. Try to limit your outdoor activity to when it’s coolest, like morning and evening hours.

  • Rest often in shady areas so that your body has a chance to recover.

  • If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or into the shade, and rest.

Protect Your Skin

  • Wear sunscreen. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool down and can make you dehydrated.

  • Look for sunscreens that say "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB protection" on their labels— these products work best.

Extreme heat can be dangerous, especially for older adults, children, and people with certain health conditions. It's important to check on family members and neighbors during a heat wave, and never leave children or pets in a car, as the temperature can rise quickly to dangerous levels.

Heat-related illnesses range from mild conditions like heat rash and heat cramps to more severe conditions like heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Here are some symptoms associated with each:

Heat Stroke

High body temperature (103°F or higher)

  • Hot, red, dry, or damp skin

  • Fast, strong pulse

  • Headache

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea

  • Confusion

  • Losing consciousness (passing out)

Heat Exhaustion

  • Heavy sweating

  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin

  • Fast, weak pulse

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Muscle cramps

  • Tiredness or weakness

  • Dizziness

  • Headache

  • Fainting (passing out)

Heat Cramps

  • Heavy sweating during intense exercise

  • Muscle pain or spasms

Heat Rash

  • Red clusters of small blisters that look like pimples on the skin (usually on the neck, chest, groin, or in elbow creases)


  • Painful, red, and warm skin

  • Blisters on the skin

If you or someone else is showing signs of a heat-related illness, it's important to respond appropriately. For severe conditions like heat stroke, call 911 right away as it is a medical emergency. For other conditions, move to a cool place, loosen clothing, put cool, wet cloths on your body or take a cool bath, and sip water. If symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention.


Take care!

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