First heat-related death reported in Maricopa County for 2019

As the Valley comes out of cooler-than-usual temperatures, the Maricopa County Department of Public Health has confirmed an older adult is the county’s first death due to heat-related illness this year.

The man, who was without housing and dehydrated, was found in a vehicle. It was not immediately known when and where this occurred.

“This is a sad reminder about how seriously we need to take our heat here in the desert,” stated 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.”

RELATEDSummer heat campaigns in Arizona strive to safe lives

RELATEDAsk the editor: Supervise, save a life while poolside this summer

While many heat-associated deaths occur outside, 40% occur indoors. The majority of those either don’t have their air conditioning turned on or it doesn’t function. Many people struggle with paying the AC bills in the summer. Utility companies are sensitive to this fact and have programs to assist individuals.

In addition, government and community-based organizations have support services and cooling centers people can visit to cool down. Energy assistance programs, locations for water, and refuge stations can be found at and

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.

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

Editor’s Note: The Maricopa County Department of Public Health provided the information above.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.