Just as lower income families and communities of color are more likely to be exposed to risks of extreme weather, they are also likely to be more exposed to health challenges given their limited access to care. Climate change related health impacts can include heat related illness; increased instances of cardiovascular and respiratory disease resulting from air pollution (including mortality, increased occurrence of vector- and water-borne diseases); increased injury and loss of life due to severe storms and flooding; and stress and mental trauma resulting from loss of livelihood, property loss, and displacement. For anyone who performs manual labor in the outdoors to earn their living, the summer months, currently the most productive time of year, will be compromised by heat and wildfire smoke and will either pressure workers to work in unsafe conditions or forego needed income.
Climate change will likely increase the number of these events that cause trauma to an individual, which can leave them feeling vulnerable and helpless. Washington County’s Health and Human Services department has developed a trauma-informed care framework that integrates trauma awareness into policies, procedures and standard practices. Trauma-informed care recognizes the impact trauma can have on an individual’s ability to access services, and trains practitioners on how to offer trauma-informed support. Washington County also has programs looking at shifts in communicable diseases, mosquito control and respiratory health. The City of Beaverton supported the launch of the LISTOS (Spanish for “Ready”) in Washington County, which is a culturally-adapted disaster preparedness curriculum for Spanish speakers, now taught all over the county and once a year in Beaverton, free of cost.