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Public Health and Safety

The actions in this focus area strive to protect and improve the health and welfare of people in our community in the face of climate change threats. Actions also prepare our community to be able to respond and recover from extreme events.


Progress Toward Our Goals

Many actions are underway in this thematic area from various partners but here are some highlights.

  • A survey of healthcare providers and organizations was completed to understand knowledge and gaps in health impacts of climate change
  • Implementation actions from the Community Wildfire Protection Plan:
    • Controlled burn in MCSF of 58 acres in April 2022 – this was a state led effort with notable municipal support of personnel
    • 5 controlled burns administered across TNC & Trustees properties in Spring 2023
    • 10,000 gallon dry hydrant installed on SMF property on Chappy will help the Town FD suppress fires in that area of high risk
  • For more updates, take a look at our 2023 Progress Report!

Climate Change and Health and Safety

Main Challenges

Climate change has serious implications for public health, including:

A lack of access to critical facilities and services due to damaged infrastructure and flooded areas during and after storm events. Extreme weather events can also delay transportation on and off-Island or stop it all together, limiting access to medical supplies and services. 

Increased risk of wildfire events during droughts.

Increased risk of physical illness and mental health issues due to changes in climate and weather patterns. Physical risks include heat-related illnesses, respiratory illnesses, vector-borne disease due to increased tick and mosquito population, and stress and anxiety associated with the impacts of natural disasters.

Learn more about how climate change impacts our health and safety on MV

View of Martha's Vineyard hospital over a nearby pond.

Climate Change and Health and Safety

Health and Well-being

As our environment is stressed and degraded by climate change and other threats, it can affect our physical and mental health.  Educating the community and medical professionals on these public health issues associated with climate change is key to our resilience.

Tree branches on the roadside after an intense storm.
Close up view of an ambulance.

Emergency Preparedness

Safety First

Preparing for emergencies before they happen is important to keeping our community safe. Coordinated regional emergency planning can help island residents prepare for emergency events and respond to and recover from their impacts.

You have a role, too! Make sure your family and business are prepared for different climate impacts, like extreme heat, power outages, and extreme storms. If you are already prepared, support community resilience by helping your neighbors!

Sail boat tipped over by storm.

Equity and Public Health and Safety

Most Vulnerable Community Members

Climate change will disproportionately impact those in our community who lack resources to prepare for the changes to come or respond to disaster events. Members of our community who are more vulnerable to changes in our climate include our large elderly population, those who suffer from respiratory conditions, outdoor workers, non-English speakers, and underserved communities who lack access to guidance and health care. 

Actions include identifying vulnerable populations and providing information and resources to improve their resilience.


Thematic Working Group Members

Liaison: Lila Fischer

Gerry Green

Graysen Kirk

Tom Zinno

Mary Jane Williams

Jennelle Gadowski

Dr. Alethia Donahue

Emily Thanhauser

Dick Johnson

Chrissie Laury

Russ Hartenstein

Kate Shands

Nelson Wirtz

Reverand Steven Harding

Alexis Babaian

Patrick Roden-Reynolds

Marina Lent

How You Can Help

Take Action to Make Our Community Resilient to Climate Change!

Sign up for CodeRED online to receive emergency notifications.
Create an emergency kit to be prepared for extreme events.
Know the signs of heat stress and heat stroke and drink plenty of water when working or recreating outside.
Ambulance driving down the street.