Parched earth landscape
With roughly 130 million Americans across 22 states under heat alerts, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are releasing new resources to help communities manage extreme heat, which is growing in intensity due to the climate crisis.
Heat remains the number one weather-related cause of death in the United States and its effects threaten our critical infrastructure. For instance, roadways, runways, and railways can begin to buckle and weaken; large demands on electrical grids and physical impacts of heat on power lines can lead to power outages; and data centers can lose cooling ability. To help communities mitigate damage from extreme temperature events in the years to come, today DHS will begin to distribute a first-of-its-kind resource guide to help state, local, tribal, and territorial officials save lives. The guide advances President Biden’s whole-of-government approach to address climate change and its impacts on our communities, and is a part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to protecting communities from extreme heat.
To encourage officials to use DHS resources and make plans for extreme temperature events, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell are inviting officials from across the country to a virtual roundtable on August 28. Attendees will hear from community leaders who have successfully implemented extreme heat mitigation projects. Officials interested in attending can RSVP by visiting: https://www.fema.gov/event/extreme-heat-summit-2023.
“As extreme heat, worsened by the climate crisis, threatens the lives, safety, and security of communities everywhere, the Biden-Harris Administration is working across all levels of government to ensure communities have resources to protect the public and our nation’s critical infrastructure,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “There are sensible, constructive measures that communities can take to mitigate the impacts of extreme heat. By sharing information, planning ahead with concrete steps, understanding available federal resources, and working together to help the most vulnerable people in their communities, Americans can prepare, adapt, and respond to these weather-related threats to the health, safety, and security of our communities.”
The resource guide and summit are the latest activities of FEMA’s #SummerReady campaign. The campaign helps to mitigate weather-related risks by reaching communities affected by rising temperatures and boosting awareness of the impacts of extreme heat, highlighting straightforward steps individuals and families can take to prepare. FEMA’s official #SummerReady website provides extreme heat safety tips for individuals, as well as helpful information and graphics for media and other stakeholders. Ready.gov also has print, online, and streaming resources to promote preparedness. As part of the #SummerReady campaign, FEMA also hosted webinars for Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant applicants to assist them with extreme heat projects.
“Communities across the nation are dealing with the consequences of extreme heat events. That’s why FEMA has been leaning forward to help communities get the information they need to build resilience against extreme heat through our #SummerReady initiative. We have hosted a series of webinars to educate communities about the risks of extreme heat and provide information on how FEMA mitigation funding can be used for extreme heat projects,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. “We will continue to engage our local, state, tribal and territorial partners to help them prepare for the deadliest climate threat we face – extreme heat.”
The new resource was guided by input from the DHS Climate Change Action Group (CCAG), created in April 2021 by Secretary Mayorkas to advance President Biden’s whole-of-government approach to tackling the climate crisis. The group, co-chaired by Senior Counselor Cass Sunstein and Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans Robert Silvers, coordinates efforts among the Department’s nine operational components to better tackle the challenges posed by climate change, which affect DHS operations, plans, business processes, programs, and strategies. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stated that in 2022, the United States recorded the third hottest summer ever. This followed the 2021 season, which tied records for the hottest summer in the country.
DHS and FEMA offer a range of resources to help communities manage extreme heat, including federal grants. These include efforts to inform people of relevant risks and to offer clear guidance about how to reduce those risks. • Heat.gov, the web portal for the National Integrated Heat Health Information System, launched by NOAA and FEMA last summer offers tips, information, and resources for state and local officials, and individuals on the impacts of extreme heat. It links to mitigation tools that can assist communities in implementing recommendations in the Resource Guide.
• FEMA’s National Risk Index offers information about multiple risks faced by different communities in the United States, including risks related to extreme heat.
• The Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant program helps make communities more resilient to extreme heat. The BRIC program, boosted by President Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also helps communities increase resilience to wildfires, drought, floods, hurricanes and other hazards by preparing before disaster strikes. To register for the virtual Extreme Heat Summit, visit: https://www.fema.gov/event/extreme-heat-summit-2023.