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Weather tied to 2,000 American Deaths per Year, CDC Reports

Update Date: Jul 30, 2014 10:18 AM EDT
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A new federal report linked the weather to at least 2,000 deaths in the United States per year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that cold temperatures caused roughly two-thirds of these deaths.

For this report, researchers from the CDC's National Centers for Health Statistics and National Center for Environmental Health examined five years of data taken from national death certificates. The team focused on deaths that were linked to the weather, such as the cold, the heat, storms, floods and lighting.

Overall, there were a total of 10,649 deaths tied to weather. The majority of the deaths, at 63 percent, were caused by exposure to cold temperatures or hypothermia. The annual death rate caused by cold temperatures was 42 per 10 million people. People who were most vulnerable to the cold were the homeless, alcoholics, ill people without adequate heating and people who participated in winter activities.

The second most common cause of death was the heat, with an annual rate of 21 per 10 million people. Around 31 percent of people died due to extreme heat, heat stroke or sunstroke. Storms, lighting or floods caused the remaining six percent of deaths.

The researchers found that being male and older increased one's risk of death from weather conditions. Men and boys had doubled the risk of death from storms, lightning or floods than women. People who were aged 65 and older had a higher mortality rate than people who were younger.

In terms of setting, people living in cities and rural areas had a higher death rate caused by high temperatures whereas people from isolated areas had a higher death rate caused by low temperatures, storms, lightning and floods. When the researchers examined ethnicity, they found that African-Americans were 2.5 times more likely than whites and two times more likely than Hispanics to die due to heat conditions. African-Americans were also more likely to die from the cold than the other two ethnic groups.

The report, "Deaths Attributed to Heat, Cold, and Other Weather Events in the United States, 2006-2010," can be found here.

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