When the weather is sizzling hot

Finding some air conditioning, particularly if you're older, could save your life.

France is one of the world's hot spots for tourists. Not long ago, that phrase took on a quite literal meaning for visitors and residents alike. In the summer of 2003, a nine-day heat wave hit the country, causing 14,800 more deaths than usual. The United States has had killer heat waves of its own, including one in Chicago in 1995 that was blamed for nearly 500 deaths.

High ozone levels, nights that never cooled off, and understaffed or ill-equipped hospitals may have helped make the French heat wave particularly lethal. But lack of air conditioning was also a major factor, especially in Paris, where the death toll was particularly high.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »