In the Hot Seat: Saving Lives from Extreme Heat in Washington State

Jason Vogel, Jeremy Hess, Zach Kearl, Kelly Naismith, Karin Bumbaco, Brian Henning, Rad Cunningham, Nick Bond
Posted on: 6/22/2023 - Updated on: 11/06/2023

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Extremely hot weather is more than just uncomfortable — it can be dangerous and even deadly. In 2021, more than 400 people in Washington died from direct and indirect heat-related causes during a week-long extreme heat event. Many more people suffered from heat-related illnesses, and the event contributed to significant economic hardship.

Enough is already known about the risks of extreme heat, and potential solutions, to take action that will save the lives of Washingtonians when the next extreme heat event occurs. In the Hot Seat: Saving Lives from Extreme Heat in Washington State describes the problem of extreme heat and outlines specific, actionable guidance for short-term emergency response and long-term risk reduction. It addresses the following questions:

  • What are the impacts of extreme heat?
  • Are certain individuals and communities at greater risk?
  • How is risk changing in the future?
  • Who is involved in preventing heat-related illnesses and death?
  • What actions can we take to prevent illness and death during extreme heat events?

From creating culturally-specific cooling centers, to increasing tree canopy and shade in certain urban areas, to improving protections for workers, the report highlights roles state and local governments, elected officials, community- and faith-based organizations and others can play in reducing the health impacts of heat exposure and saving lives from extreme heat.


Vogel, J., J. Hess, Z. Kearl, K. Naismith, K. Bumbaco, B.G. Henning, R. Cunningham, N. Bond (2023). In the Hot Seat: Saving Lives from Extreme Heat in Washington State. Report prepared by the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group, UW’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, the Washington State Department of Health, the Office of the Washington State Climatologist, and Gonzaga University’s Center for Climate, Society & the Environment.

Affiliated Organizations

The Climate Impacts Group (CIG) is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary research group studying the impacts of natural climate variability and global climate change (“global warming”). Research at the CIG considers climate impacts at spatial scales ranging from local communities to the entire western U.S. region, with most work focused on the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Through research and interaction with stakeholders, the CIG works to increase community and ecosystem resilience to fluctuations in climate.

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