Maricopa County confirms first heat-related death of the season

Jun 5, 2019, 4:20 PM | Updated: Jun 6, 2019, 9:54 am
(Pixabay Photo)...
(Pixabay Photo)
(Pixabay Photo)

PHOENIX — A dehydrated man found dead in a vehicle was the first heat-related fatality of the season in Maricopa County, authorities said Wednesday.

“Unfortunately this was our first and very tragic death of someone in Maricopa County who has died from the heat,” Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director for disease control at Maricopa County Public Health, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“This was an older man who had underlying chronic conditions and unfortunately was found in a vehicle.”

She said she was told the man did not have permanent housing and was living in the vehicle.

Last year, more than 180 deaths due to heat exposure occurred in Maricopa County, according to a press release.

While the majority happen outdoors, 40% of heat-related deaths occur indoors, the release said.

“Its important for people to know that it doesn’t have to be 90 or 100 degrees for heat-related deaths to occur,” Sunenshine said.

“In fact, the majority of heat-related deaths occur on days when there’s no extreme heat warning.”

Common practices to stay safe in the heat include:

  • Drinking water before you get thirsty.
  • Not relying on fans as a primary source for cooling.
  • Coming indoors frequently to an air-conditioned space.
  • Wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen and lightweight clothes.
  • Checking on friends and neighbors, especially the elderly.
  • Never leaving a child or pet in a parked car.

A person should seek medical care immediately if they experience symptoms of heat-related illness, including muscle cramps, headaches, vomiting, confusion, lack of sweat and rapid heart rate.

A list of heat relief centers offering free water and air conditioning throughout the Valley is available online.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Nailea Leon contributed to this report. 

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Maricopa County confirms first heat-related death of the season