Arizona groups are working to provide cooling stations for those at risk of heat-related deaths

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The National Weather Service declared a heat warning in the Phoenix area and the city of Phoenix closed popular hiking trails, on Camelback mountain and Piestewa Peak during the hottest parts of the day. The Maricopa Association of Governments is working to prevent heat-related illness and death. We learned more about these efforts from Nicky Stevens, with MAG, and Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health Administration.

“In the city of Tempe, there’s a cooling station where people can go in and actually get services as well as getting water get snacks, get some protection to ensure that they’re staying safe out of the heat. People who have, you know, their air conditioners went out they can come in and at least cool off. So they’re the cooling stations or places where people can go get water and get just out of the heat and get some, you know, just some time out of the highest times of the day where the sun is very intense,” Stevens said.

How many heat-related deaths have happened recently?

“We are seeing a lot of heat associated deaths, compared to where we were this time last year. Right now, we’ve suffered 31 heat associated deaths, and we have 159 under investigation. When you compare that to this time last year, we had only eight confirmed. So, we’re already looking like four times as high as we were last year. And most people know but it’s important to realize last year was a record year with 323 deaths, which is the highest number that we’ve ever seen. And 62% higher than the year before, so we just keep seeing year after year record numbers of heat associated deaths, and that’s why it’s so important that we work with partners like MAG (Maricopa Association of Government) and the Human Services campus to make sure that everybody has access to cooled airspace, where they can take frequent breaks in the shade or in all their space places where they can get water and hydration,” Sunsenshine said

Nicky Stevens, MAG, Regional Homelessness Program Manager & Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, the Disease Control Division Medical Director for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health Administration

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