Each year, hundreds of people die as a result of extreme heat events like the one we are currently experiencing in North Texas. However, FEMA, the organization in charge of preparedness for emergencies, does not classify heat as an official “emergency.”
Bill for Extreme Heat Emergency
As a result of climate change, when people are exposed to extreme heat, they are more likely to develop potentially fatal conditions like heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Deaths from heart attacks, strokes, and other types of cardiovascular disease can also be attributed to hot weather. Even though most heat-related deaths can be avoided with outreach and intervention, heat is the number one weather-related mortality in the United States.
In an article published by the Audacy, the Extreme Heat Emergency Act, a bill that would include extreme heat events on the list of catastrophic disasters that qualify for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) assistance, was recently introduced by Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia of the Houston region and others. There are currently no heat-related catastrophes on the FEMA disaster list, however, there are hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes.
FEMA Continues Its Objectives Aside From Providing Assistance
That title is significant because of the money. Federal funds would be made available to localities to pay for temporary housing during heat events and emergency cooling shelters if extreme heat events were added to the list.
FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell claims that despite not offering financial support, the agency is aware of its continuing obligations. According to Rep. Garcia, obtaining that FEMA classification is essential to provide aid to areas across the country that are struggling with triple-digit disasters.