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Care for your health, care for our climate 

ClimateRx helps you to protect your health in a changing climate by providing information, guidance, and ways to take action.

Health professionals can join ClimateRx today.

 Your Health in a Changing Climate

Climate change creates new pressures and impacts on our health in a variety of ways. We can all take steps to prepare for the impacts of climate change and care for our health.

Here are some examples:



Vulnerable communities face greater risks and impacts from climate change due to structural injustice and existing disparities.

Climate risks and impacts are different across the different regions of the United States.

Learn about your region.

Severe Weather

What you need to know:

  • Climate change makes severe weather events like hurricanes, wildfires, inland flooding, and tornadoes more frequent and more extreme.

  • Extreme weather is hazardous to your health both during the event and in the aftermath when you may lose power, water access, or have other unsafe conditions.

  • This can all be traumatizing, with mental health effects that persist after the severe weather has ended.

  • You can prepare yourself and your family to be safe!

What you can do:

1. Do your research.

2. Make a plan.

  • The Red Cross offers templates for family emergency plans and emergency kits as well as disaster-specific guidance.​

  • Post a list of emergency contacts and services in a common area, like a refrigerator.

  • Also, ask your pharmacist to explain and provide documentation on the side effects of your family’s medications, and proper storage instructions. Include this in your emergency kit.

3. Connect with your community.

  • Talk about your plan with your neighbors, friends, and colleagues. Encourage them to make a plan and share contact information so that you can reach each other in an emergency.

4. Take Action.

Extreme Heat

What you need to know:

  • Climate change doesn't just mean that temperatures are increasing in general, it also makes heat waves much hotter and last longer

  • Heat is deadly. More people die from the effects of heat than any other weather-related event.

  • High temperatures overnight can be the most dangerous. If it is too warm at night, people have a harder time recovering from the stress of heat exposure.   

  • People who work outside are exposed to more heat extremes, often while doing difficult physical labor. It is important to have cooling and hydration breaks.

  • Heat islands -- areas with lots of exposed cement -- can be up to 22 degrees warmer than areas with shade and trees.  

What you can do:

1. Take heat waves seriously.

  • Check forecasts for both the heat and the heat index which includes humidity. The Heat Safety Tool app is a reliable way to know if the temperature is safe for outdoor work or exercise.

  • Learn to recognize the signs of heat illness, including headache, nausea, confusion, dizziness, weakness, irritability, thirst, heavy sweating, and elevated body temperature​

2. Stay cool & hydrated.

  • Stay inside during extreme heat if you can. For people who do not have access to air conditioning at home, identify places with reliable air conditioning in your community where you can cool-off. This might be libraries, malls, or cooling centers run by your local health department.

  • If you have to be outside, wear loose-fitting clothing made of lightweight and light-colored fabric. Wear a wide-brimmed hat if you'll be somewhere without shade.

  • Be sure to drink at least 8 cups, 64 ounces, of water every day.

3. Keep the heat outside.

  • Weatherize your home. You can start by covering windows with drapes and shades. Adding weather-stripping to doors and window reflectors will also help to keep hot air outside and cool air inside.​

  • Check your insulation to be sure that you aren't letting the hot air inside and that your attic is well-ventilated. There are programs to offer financial support for home weatherization. Better insulation will also lower your monthly utility bills.

  • Help your neighbors and shared community center buildings to do the same. Everyone can benefit from lower utility bills and better insulation.

Poor Air Quality

What you need to know:

  • According to the American Lung Association, more than 36% of Americans live in places with failing grades for air quality.

  • Poor air quality has many negative health impacts, from your lungs to your heart to your mental health. These risks are highest for children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with conditions like heart disease, asthma, or diabetes. 

  • Emissions from cars, burning "natural gas" or coal for energy, and other uses of fossil fuels worsen air quality while contributing to climate change

  • Increasing temperatures from climate change also worsen air quality by creating ozone.

  • Wildfire smoke is very toxic to breathe and clouds of smoke can travel hundreds of miles away from the actual fire.

What you can do:

1. Know your air quality risks.

  • Check daily air forecasts in your area and plan your day accordingly.

  • Identify the areas in your community that are likely to have polluted air -- near busy streets or any type of building that creates a lot of emissions.

  • Learn to recognize signs of asthma or heart distress. This includes difficulty breathing, chest pressure or pain, cough, wheezing, fatigue, swelling in the legs, ankles or feet, feeling weak, light-headed, or faint, pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, arm, shoulders or back.

2. Protect yourself from polluted air.

  • Avoid exercising or playing outdoors when pollution levels are high.

  • If you have to be outside in heavily polluted air, consider wearing an N-95 mask to protect yourself from the pollution.

  • Make sure your home has high quality air filters that are changed regularly.​

3. Keep polluted air out of your home.

  • Follow the same insulation and weatherization steps in the heat section above to keep polluted air out of your home and clean air in.

  • If you have a gas-burning stove, water-heater, or furnace in your home, consider replacing it with electric, induction, or heat pump models. Be sure that gas stoves are well-ventilated to avoid breathing fumes.

  • There are federal subsidies and tax credits to help you make the switch to these cleaner, safer, more efficient products. Learn more here.

Infectious Diseases

What you need to know:

  • Warmer temperatures from climate change have increased the range of mosquitos and ticks, making it easier for them to live in much larger parts of the United States.

  • Diseases like Lyme, Dengue, West Nile, Chikunguya, and Malaria are spread through bites of mosquitos and ticks. They can be deadly to humans.

  • In addition to these vector-borne diseases, over 7 million Americans get sick every year from diseases spread through water.

  • Climate change makes it easier for many of these water-borne diseases to spread as well.

What you can do:

1. Know the risks.

  • Learn about the vector-borne disease risks in your area and pay attention for announcements from your local public health department. ​

  • Mind the guidelines for healthy swimming at public pools as well as at the beach, rivers, and lakes

  • Learn the signs of water-borne illness, including diarrhea, stomach aches or pain, dehydration, nausea and vomiting, gas, and weight loss.

2. Avoid exposure.

  • Check for ticks after spending time outdoors in nature. Look closely on children and pets.​

  • Wear protective clothing, including long sleeves, pants, and close-toed shoes when in heavily wooded areas.

  • Use repellant on your clothes and exposed skin. The CDC has recommendations for products to use.

  • Test your tap water, filter or boil water from natural sources when you are in nature.

3. Reduce the risks in your community.

  • Mosquitos lay eggs and grow in standing water. Once a week, turn over any tires, buckets, planters, toys, bird baths, or flower pots that have standing water.

  • Tightly cover water barrels or cisterns so that mosquitos can't get in to lay eggs.

  • If there is standing water that can't be turned over and is not drinking water, treat it with a larvacide. 

  • Cut back tall grass and brush in areas where children & pets play, especially around the edges of your home, to avoid ticks.

  • Keep playground equipment away from trees and the edges of yards.

  • Talk to your neighbors and friends to do the same in their yards.

Mental Health

What you need to know:

  • Climate change has effects on health at multiple levels. Severe weather and emergencies can cause individual trauma and shock in the immediate aftermath.

  • There are also long-term impacts on mental health due to climate change. Anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation increase due to the impacts of climate change and eco-anxiety.

  • Mental health is also affected at a community level by climate change, including loss of social cohesion, relationships, and even mass displacement

  • Learn more on the mental health impacts of climate change.

What you can do:

1. Action as an antidote.

  • Take action at home to be as prepared and resilient as you can be for potentially traumatizing events.

  • If you are feeling anxious about the risks and effects of climate change, taking action not only reduces risks, it gives you a needed sense of agency and control.

  • Taking action can provide an immediate benefit to your mental health!

2. Invest in your relationships.

  • We all need each other, especially in times of stress, anxiety, and danger

  • Talk with your family, friends, and neighbors about your concerns. They might be worried too and will also benefit from talking.

  • Involve your community in your plans and action to reduce your climate impact.


3. Advocate for change.

  • Your individual actions matter and add up to a collective impact.

  • Educating policy-makers and others who control larger systems can help to drive even bigger, faster change.

  • Learn more about how to advocate effectively for climate solutions. ​

Vulnerable Populations

While climate change affects all of us, low-income communities, communities of color, people living with chronic disease or disability, children, and older adults are some of the most at-risk.


Several scientific and government reports, linked below, add to the urgency for climate solutions and highlight impacts to vulnerable communities. Since the 1980s, data coupled with stories of people’s lived experiences have demonstrated disproportionate impacts of environmental hazards to low income populations and communities of color. Climate change has this same impact, exacerbating existing disparities and creating new threats.


Climate solutions present an opportunity to strengthen health equity within policies and practices in our communities. Promoting equitable climate and clean energy solutions will create a more healthy and prosperous future for everyone.

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Image courtesy of 2018 National Climate Assessment

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