Heat-related deaths up to 59 in Maricopa County; 345 under investigation

The Maricopa County Department of Public Health says an additional 20 deaths were confirmed to be heat-associated, bringing the total to 59 so far in 2023.
Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 11:29 AM MST|Updated: Aug. 10, 2023 at 11:17 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Maricopa County officials confirm nearly 60 deaths have been heat-related, and hundreds more remain under investigation. On Wednesday, Maricopa County Department of Public Health released its weekly heat report, which showed an additional 20 deaths were confirmed to be heat-associated, bringing the total to 59 so far in 2023. Officials say the numbers are high due to the prolonged heat we saw in July with 31 consecutive days above 110 degrees.

New numbers show 16 indoor heat deaths, with 11 of those showing non-functioning air conditioning. In other cases, homeowners didn’t have electricity or their air conditioning wasn’t in use. The age group seeing the most heat-related deaths is ages 50-64. A total of 404 deaths are now confirmed or suspected heat-related, a stark increase from this time last year, where 331 deaths were confirmed. Deaths are now on track to surpass last year’s numbers, as predicted by the Maricopa County’s chief medical examiner.

While Arizona’s extreme temps have let up slightly, our stretch of highs nearly peaking at 120 degrees saw heat deaths increase. On July 22, seven people died from the extreme heat when temps reached 118 degrees.

The first heat-related death in the county this year happened on April 11. The county has surpassed the number of heat deaths during this same time period last year, where 44 deaths were confirmed to be heat-associated.

The county says there is a common misconception that many of the people dying are from out of town. However, most people who have perished from heat have lived in Maricopa County for years. They also want to remind folks that heat deaths are preventable. “Anyone could find themselves in a situation where suddenly they don’t have access to a cool air-conditioned space, and so we really want people to know what resources exist and how to make a plan to get out of the heat should they find themselves in that situation,” said Dr. Nick Staab, the Assistant Medical Director for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

So, what would that plan look like? Have a friend or relative you can stay with in an emergency. Officials also say to make sure you know where the nearest cooling shelter is located. To find that, click here.

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