PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Maricopa County Department of Public Health has reported the first death due to heat-related illness of the year. 

The county reports that an older man who was without housing and dehydrated was found in dead in a vehicle.

[WATCH: Experts advise to check on neighbors to prevent heat-related deaths]

“This is a sad reminder about how seriously we need to take our heat here in the desert,” said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director for Disease Control at Maricopa County Department of Public Health. “Even when temperatures aren’t as high as we see in late summer, temperatures in the 80s and 90s can still lead to dehydration and be very dangerous. This is especially true for our most vulnerable populations, such as seniors and people without shelter.”

[READ MORE: Heat Warnings: What you need to know]

According to Maricopa County Public Health, 40 percent of heat associated deaths actually occur indoors. Most of those deaths stem from air conditioning systems that are broken or just not turned on.

"It's incredibly sad and that's why we need to work as a community and check on our neighbors, make sure that they're doing OK and that they have their air conditioning turned on," said Dr. Sunenshine.

Many people struggle with paying the AC bills in the summer. Utility companies are sensitive to this fact and have programs to assist individuals.

Government and community-based organizations also offer support services and cooling centers people can visit to cool down.

[MORE: Extreme Heat]

Energy assistance programs, locations for water, and refuge stations can be found at heataz.com and caloraz.com

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people die in the U.S. from heat than all other natural disasters combined.

Last year, 182 heat-associated deaths occurred in Maricopa County due to exposure to environmental heat. This is the highest number of heat-associated deaths on record for Maricopa County.

[MAP: See hydration stations in metro Phoenix]

People suffer heat-associated illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. Common-sense practices will keep you safe and healthy during the summer, including:

· Drink water before you get thirsty to prevent dehydration

· Don’t rely on fans as your primary source of cooling

· Come indoors frequently to an air-conditioned location to cool your core body temperature

· Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, and 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 ensure sufficient cooling and supplies

· 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 heat relief resources, statistics, and information on how heat affects vulnerable populations, please visit heataz.com

 


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

 

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(4) comments

Robs

Oiye, once eat watermelon and bod felt like it just imidiatly unshrieveled, not even had felt thirsty prior. [scared]

NavyJR

Dehydration can occur at any time of the year, even with below freezing temps and snow on the ground, and for many reasons. To call it "heat related" is misleading at best. It's just not that hot yet, even in Phoenix. The most common cause is simply not drinking enough water every day, regardless age, or health conditions, external temperatures or any other factors. That said, in the desert, our lower humidities mean that we lose moisture faster, and with less realization, because the sweat evaporates before it really forms on our skin here, even at cooler temperatures; so we need to be conscious at all times about drinking water and staying hydrated.

ObeyLaws

Thank you Captain Obvious.

Uncle Leo

You must be new or never go outside Navy. Heat related issues can occur in AZ almost year around, especially to the elderly and people with health problems. As I see it, this article was very accurate and this was most definitely a heat related death. Please Navy, stay inside this summer. We have enough uneducated people outside in the heat as it is!

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