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First heat-related death of 2021 confirmed; Maricopa County 2020 heat report shows record number of deaths

The news of the first heat-related death of 2021 comes as public health officials released the 2020 heat report.

PHOENIX — As we inch closer to summer, Maricopa County has announced its first heat-related death of 2021.

Officials confirmed the death of a "male older adult" Tuesday. The identity of the man was not immediately released to the public. Along with that, Maricopa County Department of Public Health released the 2020 heat report

According to the report, 2020 saw a record high of 323 heat-related deaths; a 62% increase from 2019 and the highest number recorded since heat surveillance began in 2001. 

Most heat-related deaths occur in July and August, but they can also occur as early as April and as late as October, officials said.

“The tragedy of these deaths is that they are all preventable,” said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director for disease control at MCDPH. “No matter your age or how long you’ve lived in the valley, none of us are immune to its effects.”

Safety tips

The bodies of those who have a heat-associated illness are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. To prevent heat-associated illness, Maricopa County Public Health offers these safety tips:

  • Drink water before you get thirsty to prevent dehydration
  • Don’t rely on fans as your primary source of cooling once the temperature gets higher than 90 degrees, they don't work anymore
  • Come indoors frequently to an air-conditioned location to cool your core body temperature
  • Wear lightweight clothes
  • Never leave kids, pets, and others who may rely on you inside of a parked car
  • Check on friends and neighbors, especially the elderly, to make sure their A/C is functioning and turned on and that they are feeling OK
  • Seek medical care immediately if you have, or someone you know has, symptoms of heat-associated illness like muscle cramps, headaches, vomiting, confusion, no longer sweating, and rapid heart rate

For more information, visit HeatAZ.org or CalorAZ.org in Spanish.

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