Biden launches effort aimed at protecting people from extreme heat

Extreme heat is leading weather-related killer in America

WASHINGTON -- President Joe Biden announced a multi-agency effort Monday aimed at protecting Americans for the effects of extreme heat.

According to the National Weather Service, nearly 140 people have died from the heat each year over the past 30 years in the United States on average. That’s larger than the average number of people who have died from tornadoes and hurricanes combined in the last 30 years.

"My Administration will not leave Americans to face this threat alone," Biden said in a written statement. "Today, I am mobilizing an all-of-government effort to protect workers, children, seniors, and at-risk communities from extreme heat."

The Interagency Work Group on Extreme Heat includes members from the Health and Human Services Department, the Labor Department, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the White House, one of the goals of the group is to develop standards to protect workers who are exposed to extreme heat, such as agricultural, construction delivery, factory, kitchen and warehouse workers.

Another goal is to help people who are most at risk for exposure to extreme heat. This includes using schools as cooling centers and providing help to low-income households through an adjustment of existing assistance requirements for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

The group will also use research to determine how best to address the needs of those disproportionately affected by extremely high temperatures. It will also be used to help provide more data and planning tools to local governments.

The White House said the group will also look at ways to use trees to reduce heat inside urban centers.

"Rising temperatures pose an imminent threat to millions of American workers exposed to the elements, to kids in schools without air conditioning, to seniors in nursing homes without cooling resources, and particularly to disadvantaged communities," Biden said in the statement.

Biden said disasters caused a record $99 billion in damage in the United States last year. 

"Communities that over 100 million people – one in three Americans – call home have been struck by extreme weather events in the last few months alone," Biden said in the statement. "This is a blinking code red for our nation."

The president also emphasized the need to rebuild with resilience against future disasters in mind.