Maricopa County Health: 12 people may have died from issues related to heat this year

Arizona's extreme heat is creating health issues for many people. Whitney Clark reports on the best steps to avoid getting overheated & keep yourself in check.
Published: Jul. 12, 2023 at 6:59 AM MST|Updated: Jul. 12, 2023 at 4:44 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- 12 people have died from issues likely connected to heat so far in 2023, according to the Maricopa County Health Department.

The department believes that at least one death happened within the past week. The department still has a backload of 55 deaths that occurred this year that are still under investigation. Estimates show that approximately half of this year’s heat-related deaths are people experiencing homelessness. The first heat-related death was reported back in April.


If you are outside during the heat of the day, doctors suggest making sure you’re fully covered and thinking about putting a wet towel or shirt around your neck. It’s a dry heat, so we lose a lot of water and get dehydrated really quickly. Such prolonged heat can have a number of impacts on our bodies, including our skin. It’s very easy to get sunburned...

The brutal heat wave hitting Arizona can take a serious and dangerous toll on the body.

You also need to be mindful of mental health. While Seasonal Affective Disorder is common in the cold winter months in other parts of the country, here in Arizona, it’s something we can see during the summer when so many of us are cooped up inside.

“People described the dry heat of Arizona as almost putting your head or entire body into the oven. I think that’s the best way to describe it,” said Dr. Shad Marvasti, a Phoenix area doctor. “When you open the door, and you just feel that wave of heat, it’s very similar to when you open an oven”.

The National Weather Service says it is the hottest start to July on record for Arizona regarding the average temperature. And it seems we aren’t getting too much relief at night. One reason we’re experiencing seeing such high temps, particularly in the Valley, is the urban heat island effect which occurs in places with more buildings and concrete. As Arizona’s Family’s Holly Bock explained, in areas like downtown Phoenix, for example, it absorbs all of the heat from the day and makes it harder to cool down at night. But in rural, more outlying areas, it tends to be considerably cooler because there are fewer buildings to trap the heat.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, nearly 3,000 people visit emergency rooms across the state because of heat-related illnesses every single year.

Staying hydrated, keeping a charged phone and wearing appropriate clothing can keep you safe when hiking in Arizona. Alaina Kwan reports.

correction: Corrected to clarify the Maricopa County Health Department death investigations information.

See a spelling or grammatical error in our story? Please click here to report it.

Do you have a photo or video of a breaking news story? Send it to us here with a brief description.