Jun 12, 2023 - Climate

Floods, fires and ferocious heat: Prepare for Arizona summer dangers

A man standing in front of many screens.

Arizona Division of Emergency Management director Allen Clark at the State Emergency Operations Center. Photo: Jessica Boehm/Axios

While Arizona is immune to many summertime natural disasters, like tornadoes and hurricanes, emergency experts are urging residents to stay vigilant against our three major dangers: fires, floods and ferocious heat.

State of play: Scalding temperatures are pretty much a part of life in the Valley for the next several months.

  • Heat can always be dangerous for people who don't have access to AC and water, but it turns deadly when temperatures stay elevated in the evening hours because the body doesn't have a chance to recover from the heat stress.

Zoom in: Heat wave and blackout would hospitalize half of Phoenix residents

Meanwhile, wildfires can tear through rural areas quickly, and flash floods often follow.

  • Above-average rainfall this winter may be enough to temper the wildfire season in northern Arizona, but it almost certainly won't eliminate it, Arizona Division of Emergency Management director Allen Clark tells us.
  • Southern Arizona's grasslands are of particular concern this year because of the flammability of the vegetation, he says.

Why it matters: Heat, fire and floods can be deadly, and all are growing more dangerous because of climate change.

Be smart: Always have an emergency kit in your home, at work and in the car and keep at least 72 hours of water and food on hand.

  • Make sure your household has an evacuation plan in case of an emergency that would require you to leave your home.
  • If you travel to northern or southern Arizona, know the fire and flood risks before you go and be aware that both can strike quickly.

What they're saying: "The more the community can help us [by being prepared], the more we can help the community," Clark says.

What we're watching: Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego earlier this year asked FEMA to add extreme heat to its list of declared emergencies, a move that would unlock additional funding to protect vulnerable people during the summer.

  • U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego last week introduced the Extreme Heat Emergency Act, which would force FEMA to do just that.

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