Metro Phoenix heat-associated death toll jumps to 133, up 44 in past week
Aug 23, 2023, 3:00 PM
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
PHOENIX – Valley officials have confirmed 133 heat-associated deaths in 2023, a jump of 44 in the past week, according to data released Wednesday.
Another 341 cases remain under investigation, according to the latest Maricopa County Department of Public Health weekly report.
Wednesday’s report covers cases through the year’s 33rd week, which ended Saturday. The previous week’s report showed 89 heat-associated deaths confirmed and 349 cases under investigation.
The latest numbers are significantly higher than they were at the same time in 2022, when 82 heat-associated deaths were confirmed and 265 were under investigation through 33 weeks.
Maricopa County finished 2022 with a record 425 heat-associated deaths, a 25% increase from 2022.
Phoenix, the state and county’s largest city, endured its hottest July ever this year, but the 2023 number of confirmed heat-associated deaths trailed last year’s pace until two weeks ago.
On Aug. 11, Gov. Katie Hobbs declared a state of emergency in response to this summer’s record temperatures.
How do Valley officials determine heat-associated deaths?
The Maricopa County Department of Public Health comes up with its heat-associated death figures by adding together heat-caused deaths, in which heat or heat exposure is listed on the death certificate as the primary cause, with heat-related deaths, in which heat exposure is listed as a secondary cause.
Of this year’s confirmed deaths, 72 are classified as heat-caused and 61 as heat-related.
Totals can change dramatically during the course of investigations that often include toxicology tests that can take months, so the latest reports don’t reflect the true toll of this summer’s extreme heat.
More statistics about 2023 heat-associated deaths
A third of this year’s 59 heat-associated deaths are in the 50-64 age group.
Thirty-two of the deaths, about a quarter of the total, occurred indoors. Air conditioning wasn’t present in two of those cases. Where air conditioning existed, the unit wasn’t working in 27 cases, it wasn’t in use for two, and the power was out for one.
When broken down by living situation, 50% of 2023’s heat-associated deaths were classified as non-homeless, 41% as homeless and 9% were unknown.