United States

Is This Summer Going To Be Hotter Than Ever? Find Out With HeatRisk Map

The CDC and National Weather Service have launched a new HeatRisk map to help Americans manage rising temperatures and health risks. By entering a ZIP code, users can see a seven-day forecast of heat-related dangers, ranging from low to extreme risk.

Screengrab from National Weather Service

As temperatures rise and electric bills soar, staying cool has never been more important. To help Americans manage the sweltering summer heat, the CDC and National Weather Service (NWS) have introduced a new HeatRisk map. This tool allows you to check how hot your area will be for the next seven days and understand the potential health risks.

By simply entering your ZIP code, you can see a seven-day forecast showing the heat-related risks in your area. 

The HeatRisk map uses a five-tier colour and number scale, ranging from green (little to no risk) to magenta (extreme risk). The CDC and NWS warn that without proper cooling and hydration, everyone is at risk at the magenta or red (major) levels.

The map doesn't just show temperature; it also considers how long the heat will last and how unusual the heat is for that time of year and location. With last summer’s record-breaking temperatures still fresh in memory, we might be in for a repeat this year.

According to the NWS, the Midwest to Northeast is expected to experience "the hottest temperatures of the summer," potentially breaking daily and monthly records for June. This heat wave could be the longest some areas have seen in decades.

In 2023, around 2,300 people in the US died from heat-related illnesses, many due to a lack of air conditioning. To avoid heat-related problems like heat stroke and exhaustion, the NWS recommends drinking plenty of water, even if you’re not thirsty, and wearing loose, light-coloured clothing.

Young children and infants are particularly vulnerable to heat, as their bodies don't adapt well to temperature changes. Older adults, especially those on certain medications, are also at higher risk. People with chronic health conditions and pregnant women need to be extra cautious too.

Extreme heat doesn't just affect people—it can also impact infrastructure like transportation, utilities, and agriculture. High temperatures can strain electrical grids, water supplies, and even affect aeroplane operations. A study from 2021 estimated that heat could cost the US $100 billion in reduced productivity each year.

The HeatRisk map was initially launched as a prototype for California in 2013 and now includes CDC information on health impacts. Although it's still an experimental tool, the NWS is seeking public feedback through a survey available until September 30.