Phoenix health authorities are giving people ice baths to prevent hundreds of heat-related deaths

Unprecedented heat has prompted Phoenix authorities to take new measures

Arizona authorities are resorting to ice baths in hopes of saving heat stroke victims in a city that saw hundreds of heat-related deaths last year. Starting this season, the country’s hottest major city will implement the measure as standard protocol while victims are taken to hospital.

According to Fire Chief John Prato, the technique can drastically reduce body temperature within minutes. “Last week we had a critical patient that we were able to return before we even walked through the emergency room doors,” Prato told The Associated Press. “That is our goal: to improve patients’ chances of survival.”

The measures are being implemented as a heat wave continues to affect large parts of the south of the country. with the central part of the state bracing for temperatures that could top 110°F (43.3°C) in the coming days.

The authorities have warned about it “potentially life-threatening heat-related illnesses due to a change in weather pattern that will result in triple-digit temperatures during the region’s first heat wave.”

This weather is considered a major heat hazard; Overexposure can lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion and, if left untreated, heat stroke.

Maricopa county authorities reported 645 heat-related deaths last year, most of them in Phoenix during a period when temperatures did not drop below 110°F for 31 consecutive days. 40% of those who develop severe heat illnesses do not survive.

In recent months, Mexico and the United States have been experiencing the El Niño phenomenon, which causes warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures, affecting global climate.

As the temperature of the oceans rises, this phenomenon warms the atmosphere and changes the wind circulation patterns that travel from one continent to another.

The phenomenon is becoming more common as global temperatures continue to rise. Earth recorded a record high last year, and according to a group of scientists, 92% of these increases were caused by humans.

However, last year temperatures were so dramatically higher than before that the group has wondered whether this can be attributed solely to humans. If you look at this world accelerating or going through a major tipping point, that’s not happening,” said Piers Forster, one of the scientists. “The temperature is rising and it’s getting worse, just as we predicted.”

Specifically, 2023 was 1.43 degrees warmer than pre-industrial levels, with 1.31 degrees explained by human activity. The remaining percentage can be explained by El Niño. Scientists said it could take less than five years to reach the acceptable threshold for warming: the 1.5°C agreed in the Paris Accords.

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