The city’s health-care system was severely taxed as thousands were taken to local hospitals with heat-related problems, such as dehydration, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion. Case Study: Deadly Chicago Heat Wave of 1995 Extreme Heat Threatens Electrical Infrastructure in Upper Manhattan Life in New York Public Housing: No AC, but Maybe a … After reading this case study and an interview transcript with one of the experts on the 1995 Chicago heat wave, turn to the Discussion Questions to think about how social networks and the built environment can protect us during heat waves now and in the future. . The heat wave that swept across the Great Plains and Midwest in mid July 1995 was one of the deadliest in U.S. history. Urban heat islands are caused by the concentration of buildings and pavement in urban areas, which tend to absorb more heat in the day and radiate more heat at night into their immediate surroundings than comparable rural sites. EDITOR’S NOTE: AdaptNY prepared this case study for a 2014 workshop in Chicago that explored risks that different regions must grapple with in the face of climate change. The 1995 heat wave also had a heavy impact on the wider Midwestern region, with additional deaths in St. Louis and Milwaukee. Graphic of projected urban heat island exacerbated by climate change. Background During a record-setting heat wave in Chicago in July 1995, there were at least 700 excess deaths, most of which were classified as heat-related. Recognizing climate change will affect extreme heat events among many other weather events, Chicago decided to conduct a vulnerability assessment to better understand the threat. From Wednesday, July 12, through Sunday, July 16, 1995, the heat tied or broke a number of temperature records at Chicago’s official reporting station, O’Hare International Airport. And now the city is facing another. The heat index, which measures how the temperature actually feels on the body, would hit 126 degrees by the time the day was over. Learn about the demographics that were particularly vulnerable to the heat wave, and how those vulnerabilities made this heat wave (and … Since the heatwave in 1995, Chicago has updated its heatwave emergency response policies in several ways. Technology, SLCE Nuts and Bolts (Service Learning & Community Engagement), Faculty Guidance and Resources - Online Teaching, Social and Environmental Determinants of Health, Infrastructure: Physical, Technological, Social, Human The findings in Chicago by the CCMEO that blacks, males, and the elderly appear to be particularly susceptible to heat-related death are similar to previous studies of heat waves. When emergency crews came to seal the hydrants, some people threw bricks and rocks to keep them away. Establishing an official “death toll” for the 1995 Chicago heat wave was highly contentious. Even fewer studies have used such methods to analyze specific heat wave periods, 6, 7 and none of these studies has addressed heat waves on the North American continent. A retrospective case-control study of the impact of heat waves on older patients attending an inner city Australian emergency department Asia Pac. “The heat made the city’s roads buckle. A Chicago heat wave in 1995 took the lives of hundreds of people. . Base WordPress Theme by Graph Paper Press, http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/443213in.html, Supported by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, Harlem sensor data reveals dangerous indoor heat risk, Workshop connects Harlem residents, experts in search for extreme heat solutions, Hear the Heat: Our Song Demonstrates What it Felt Like Inside Harlem Homes This Summer, Neither Ice Blocks Nor Cooling Centers Protect New Yorkers Entirely from Heat Risks, As Temperatures Climb, the Elderly, Frail and Poor Are Put at Risk, Meet the Heat: How Hot Weather Harms Health for NYC Residents, Hot Blast from NYC’s Past – A History of City’s Heat Waves, Case Study: Deadly Chicago Heat Wave of 1995, Extreme Heat Threatens Electrical Infrastructure in Upper Manhattan, Life in New York Public Housing: No AC, but Maybe a Fan Blowing Soot from Outside the Window, ‘Harlem Heat Project’ Enlists Citizen Scientists in Sensor Data News Project to Tackle Heat Wave Health Risks, VIDEO: Huff Post Covers Harlem Heat Project, AdaptNY Project Featured on WNYC Talk Show, Harlem Heat Project Puts Sensors in Field, FAQ: Harlem and the Urban Heat Island Effect, Resource Guide: Extreme Heat & Health Stats for Harlem, RESILIENCY SPOTLIGHT: Staten Island, Awaiting Next Storm, Balances Long-Term Planning, Short-Term Needs. A fleet of them. BACKGROUND During the summer of 1999, Chicago's second deadliest heat wave of the decade resulted in at least 80 deaths. From the moment the local medical examiner began to report heat-related mortality figures, some political leaders, journalists, and even the mayor, actively denied the disaster’s real significance. WORKSHOP: Community Brainstorms Climate Resilience Solutions. All content © 2020 by . The 1995 heat wave also had a heavy impact on the wider Midwestern region, with additional deaths in St. Louis and Milwaukee. This event prompted the city to strengthen and update its heat emergency response system. It has also established grants to promote green roofs and the installation of trees, plants, compost bins, and rain barrels. The killer heat wave that scorched Chicago 24 years ago produced an enduring symbol: red and yellow refrigerated semi-trailer trucks. “The most sophisticated climate models ‘failed to detect relationships between the weather and mortality that would explain what happened in July 1995 in Chicago.’”, “The death toll was the result of distinct dangers in Chicago’s social environment,” he added, “Hundreds of Chicago residents died alone, behind locked doors and sealed windows, out of contact with friends, family, and neighbors, unassisted by public agencies or community groups. Georgia Institute of TechnologyNorth Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30332Phone: 404-894-2000, Georgia Institute of Technology The high mortality, exceeded only by a 1995 heat wave, provided the opportunity to investigate the risks associated with heat-related deaths and to examine the effectiveness of targeted heat-relieving interventions. Public Health, 27 (2) (2015), pp. For instance, the city has installed more than 100 green alleys, using a porous gravel structure that eliminates dark, heat-absorbing surfaces. North Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30332 With hot temperatures flaring across the United States in the coming days – 21 states have extended heat alerts and cities along the East Coast are hitting high temperatures starting Friday – this AdaptNY case study of the Chicago heat wave of 1995 looks at how the urban heat island effect is exacerbated by socio-economic factors and poor city planning. No official heat emergency warning was released until the last day of the heat wave. In 1999, when Chicago experienced another severe heat wave, the city issued strongly worded warnings and press releases to the media, opened cooling centers and provided free bus transportation to them, phoned elderly residents, and sent police officers and city workers door-to-door to check up on seniors who lived alone.”. . Other factors that contributed to the high death rate, the state’s climatologist argued, were an inadequate local heat wave warning system, power failures, inadequate ambulance service and hospital facilities, and the aging of the population in urban areas. By By Cindy Schreuder. Trafficking Notice. Many Chicagoans swarmed the city’s beaches, but others took to the fire hydrants. According to the National Weather Service , "Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year. Temperatures were 20-30% higher than the seasonal average over most of the continent (Figure 1). Pollutants and humidity were confined to ground level, and without wind, temperatures grew even hotter- indoor temperatures were reported to exceed 90 °F at night. The high mortality, exceeded only by a 1995 heat wave, provided the opportunity to investigate the risks associated with heat-related deaths and to examine the effectiveness of targeted heat-relieving interventions. By contrast, during the heat waves of the 1930s, many local residents slept in parks or along the shore of Lake Michigan. AP Photo/Mike Fisher (The Center Square) – The Chicago Heat Wave of July 1995 represents the worst weather-related or natural disaster in the history of Illinois, according to a new analysis from the website 24/7 Wall St. That event resulted in 750 fatalities, the study reported. Humidity was extremely high with dew point temperatures in the upper 70s to lower 80s. A heat warning is issued when the heat index reaches certain dangerous levels—protocols were set after the deadly July 1995 heat wave that killed more than 700 people in Chicago… Interview excerpt with Eric Klinenberg, 2002. We sought to determine who was at greatest risk for heat-related death. Chicago’s Deadly 1995 Heat Wave: An Oral History In July 1995, a scorching three-day stretch caught the city unprepared, leaving 739 dead. In 1995, Chicago experienced an extreme heat event that led to the deaths of several hundred people over the course of five days. With heat waves set to increase over the coming decades, how can we fight this invisible killer? Subsequent policy response? But these deaths were not an act of God,” said Klinenberg in a 2002 interview. 404.894.2000, © Georgia Institute of The heat index reached 119 °F at O’Hare Airport, and 125 °F at Midway Airport. In September, an epidemiologic study by the Chicago Board of Health blamed 733 July deaths in the city on the heat… Eric Klinenberg, author of the 2002 book, “Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago,” has noted that the map of heat-related deaths in Chicago mirrors the map of poverty and urban abandonment — a deeper cause, he says, the city did not want to acknowledge. Therefore, built-up areas get hotter and stay hotter. Live Coverage from Manhattan’s Lower East Side. LIVE COVERAGE: Are New York’s High-Risk Neighborhoods Climate Safe? In future heat emergencies, interventions directed to such persons should reduce deaths related to the heat. Critics of the city argued that better preparation could have averted some of the deaths that occurred. Twenty-three hospitals—most on the South and Southwest Sides—went on bypass status, closing the doors of their emergency rooms to new patients. What makes Heat Wave such an essential book at this moment in American politics is that, using the 1995 heat wave as his paradigm, Klinenberg has written a forceful account of what it means to be poor, old, sick and alone in the era of American entrepreneurial government. Police officers had to wait as long as three hours for a worker to receive the body. But underlying societal weaknesses were another, more complicated factor. Paramedics couldn’t keep up with emergency calls, and city hospitals were overwhelmed. Around 600 people died in the mid July heat wave, making this the deadliest weather event in Chicago history. Temperatures peaked at 104 degrees during the deadly 1995 Chicago heat wave, according to NOAA data. In Chicago, local temperatures soared to record highs that July, with the hottest weather occurring from July 12 to July 16. In July 1995 some 500-750 people died in Chicago during a torpid 5-day heat wave on July 12-16 that hit the city. Learn about the demographics that were particularly vulnerable to the heat wave, and how those vulnerabilities made this heat wave (and others like it) not just a natural disaster, but a social one. That “aggressive response” drastically reduced the death toll of the 1999 heat wave: 110 residents died, a fraction of the 1995 level but “still catastrophic. . Another powerful factor in the heat wave was that a “temperature inversion” grew over the city, and air stagnated. The high of 106 °F on July 13 was the second warmest July temperature since record keeping began at Chicago Midway International Airport in 1928. CONCLUSIONS: In this study of the 1995 Chicago heat wave, those at greatest risk of dying from the heat were people with medical illnesses who were socially isolated and did not have access to air conditioning. SPECIAL REPORT: Assessing Resilience Planning: Is the City Preparing Smartly for the Rising Risks of Climate Change? 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