Deaths related to the heat continue to rise in Maricopa County

Dangerous heat is becoming a more common occurrence around the Valley.
Published: Jun. 12, 2022 at 7:18 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Dangerous heat is becoming a more common occurrence around the Valley. Unfortunately, with that comes an increase in the amount of heat-related deaths. There has been one confirmed heat-associated death in Maricopa County as of the beginning of this month. But last year, there were 338 in total, with most of those deaths happening outdoors.

“We pretty much follow the shade religiously. Phoenix actually has some good water fountains with cold water in them,” said Benjamin Griffin Medellin, who spent Sunday afternoon playing Pokémon Go in Phoenix.

Spending more than a couple of minutes outside in the sun can be painful, but living outside could be deadly.

“Our bodies are not meant to withstand that kind of heat. Especially for long periods of time,” said community activist Stacey Champion. On the hottest weekend in the Valley this year, Champion thinks of those living outdoors. “It was still 100 degrees very late into the night. So there is no respite.”

Last year, there were 338 heat-associated deaths in Maricopa County. According to Maricopa County Public Health, 75% of those deaths were outdoors. The county reports heat deaths overall have been increasing each year. Champion knows of at least one person who may have died from heat exhaustion just last week.

“I’ve seen us break records every year. I won’t be surprised if we unfortunately break those records this year,” Champion said.

Emergency cooling centers and water distribution areas can be found throughout Maricopa County during the summer and extreme heat events for anyone needing to cool down. View the full-size map of cooling stations and donation sites from the Heat Relief Network.