June 9, 2023

Combined Heat Wave, Blackout Would Send Half of Phoenix to ER

The Southwest, and Phoenix in particular, faces a severe public health threat this summer, according to a study published this week.


Researchers are raising concerns about the possibility of electrical grid failures during the hottest part of the year and what that would mean for residents’ health. The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, names Phoenix as the city that would suffer the most from such an event.

Estimates predict that, should Phoenix experience a prolonged blackout, more than 750,000 residents would require emergency care for heat-related illnesses. However, with only 3,000 hospital beds city wide, researchers estimate that roughly 12,000 Phoenicians would die.

“I describe this as probably the greatest climate-related hazard we can image: a blackout during a heat wave,” said Brian Stone Jr., the study’s lead author.

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