Heat-related illnesses are progressive, ranging from mild symptoms to life-threatening conditions.
- Heat cramps are the earliest sign of heat illness. These are hard, tense and painful muscle cramps of the hands, calves, feet, thighs or arms.
- Heat exhaustion can occur as a result of a rising internal temperature and dehydration. Signs of heat exhaustion include nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps, presyncope, headache, fatigue and heavy sweating.
- Heat stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency with a fatality rate of up to 71%. Therefore, it requires immediate medical attention and intervention.
A preliminary report from the Maricopa County Department of Health shows 339 heat-associated deaths occurred in 2021. The health department splits the deaths into two categories with 145 deaths occurring directly due to the heat and 194 considered heat-related. This marks the second consecutive year the valley of the sun reported over 300 heat-associated deaths, a dramatic increase from years past.
The number of heat-associated deaths is similar to 2020 when 323 people died from the heat. The increase from 2019 is stark. More than a seventy percent jump in heat-associated deaths between 2019 and 2020.
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