A heat emergency was declared here in Washington DC this week.

When the temperature reaches 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35C) an emergency plan is put in place, which involves activating cooling centres for residents.

Members of the public are advised to take precautions by staying in the shade or in air-conditioned rooms and drinking plenty of water.

"Periods of high heat and humidity can cause medical problems such as heat exhaustion and stroke," warned an alert issued by the mayor's office.

July temperatures of 35C are not unusual in Washington DC and the intense humidity can make it feel even hotter.

Add in the mosquitos, and you can understand why the US capital is known as 'The Swamp'.

The city and its residents, however, have become used to the uncomfortable summer conditions. Homes and offices are equipped with air-conditioning, there are free outdoor swimming pools and splash parks and, while we may grumble about the heat, it is no surprise to see the temperatures soar at this time of year.

The same cannot be said, however, for many other areas of North America right now, particular in the US Pacific Northwest and parts of Canada.

At the end of last month, temperatures in British Columbia hit a record high when they passed 49C degrees.

Authorities in the region have said that hundreds of people suffered "sudden and unexpected deaths" linked to the extreme heat.

Many homes in British Columbia do not have air conditioning because normally it would not be needed.

There were reports of hotels being fully booked as residents abandoned their sweltering houses for air-conditioned rooms.

Heatwaves have also been hitting Washington State, Oregon, Nevada and California.

The severe drought and soaring temperatures mean that wildfire season is already under way with emergency crews tackling blazes across the region.

I visited Northern California in early June where property owners were getting ready for what was expected to be another record wildfire season.

A herd of goats owned by Charlotte Williams was being used to prepare an area of woodland, with the animals eating the dry grasses and shrubs that burn easily and spread the fires.

"A property owner, either commercial or a private home, will call me and ask for some brush clearing by the goats. I will then bring in my small herd and it doesn't matter if it is very steep or flat, they will eat the brush and the dry grasses," Charolotte said.

It struck me as an old, traditional method being used to prepare for a new and changing climate.

Experts warn that climate change will likely lead to more extreme weather events like heatwaves.

Dr Sabrina McCormick is an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University.

"If we don't act quickly sea level rise will essentially flood every major city on the coast, this will drive population movement, cause massive social disruption. It will affect Miami, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles - all the cities that we know of as the face of America," Dr McCormick said.

She is also warning about rising temperatures in the US.

"This country will be increasingly hot as we are seeing right now on the West Coast. So, we will see increasing frequency of extreme events and they will be more intense," Dr McCormick said.

Last month was the hottest June on record in North America, according to the European Union's climate monitoring service.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said the region was 1.2C degrees above the 1991-2020 average in June.

"These heatwaves are not happening in a vacuum. They are happening in a global climate environment that is warming and which makes them more likely to occur," said C3S climate scientist Julien Nicolas.

When Joe Biden became US president, he rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement and in April he announced an ambitious plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.

He is facing an uphill battle, however, when it comes to getting his green energy initiatives passed by the US Congress with opponents warning of job losses in industries such as oil and gas.

There are disagreements in the US over how to tackle the threats facing our planet but as temperatures soar this summer, climate change is the hot topic of conversation for many Americans.