, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 133-137
Date: 13 Aug 2009

A simple method for estimating excess mortality due to heat waves, as applied to the 2006 California heat wave

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To characterize excess mortality during a major heat wave in California and its regions; to assess the validity of a simple method.


We calculated mortality rate ratios for the heat-wave period, using a reference period of the same number of days from the same summer. We conducted alternative analyses and compared our results with those from a time-series model.


We estimated 655 excess deaths, a 6% increase (95% confidence interval, 3–9%), impacting varied geographic/climate regions. Alternate analyses supported model validity.


California experienced excess heat-wave related mortality not restricted to high heat regions. As climate change is anticipated to increase heat events, public health efforts to monitor effects assume greater importance.

The views expressed are those of the authors and may not necessarily represent the policies of the California Department of Public Health.