Heat-related deaths highlighted in new report
The Maricopa County Department of Public Health released a new report about heat-related deaths which show there was a 25% increase in the number of deaths in 2022 over 2021. There were 425 deaths related to the heat reported in 2022.
These deaths are of great concern because they are largely preventable. The report takes a deep dive into the specifics, including demographics and ways to prevent the deaths. Dr. Nick Staab, Medical Epidemiologist for Maricopa County Department of Public Health, joined Horizon to discuss the findings.
“The report shows that if you are unsheltered, the homeless are experiencing higher rates of heat-related deaths. We saw a higher number of males in that population,” said Dr. Staab.
Nearly two-thirds of all heat-associated deaths occurred among individuals 50 years of age or older. Deaths in outdoor settings have driven the increase in total number of heat-related deaths, and in 2022, 42% of indoor deaths were females. All indoor heat-associated deaths in 2022 occurred in uncooled environments.
Over half of these deaths involved drug use, and Maricopa County alone reported 283 deaths involving substance abuse.
“Maricopa County Health is part of the heat relief network, which is a large group of partners and jurisdictions, a lot of community organizations, who are doing the work of providing cooling centers, looking at how to get to those particular populations who are at higher risk. This data really helps us bring those partners to the table,” said Dr. Stabb.