Extreme Heat in Arizona Causes a Public Health Hazard
Rising temperatures are causing more and more deaths every year. It is happening all over the country, but the rates are even more extreme in Arizona. The Phoenix area has already experienced extreme heat warnings from the state’s Department of Health Services this summer. Exactly how many people are dying from extreme heat in Maricopa County?
The New York Times reported that in 2016, 130 Maricopa county residents died of heat related causes. AZ Central claimed that while it is difficult to calculate heat related deaths due to varying definitions, Maricopa County contributed to about 25% of the US’s heat related deaths in 2015. Many of these deaths occur when people do not have functioning air conditioners, especially the elderly and economically disadvantaged. “People who are economically disadvantaged have a harder time paying for increased electricity bills or keeping their water on throughout the entire year and those factors can predispose you to heat-related illness,” Kate Goodin, epidemiology and data services program manager at the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, told NBC News.
It is not just heat related illnesses that have increased with the rising temperatures in Arizona. The extreme temperatures are also contributing to natural disasters, such as wildfires. Governor Ducey stated that “since April 2017, Arizona has experienced more than one dozen large wildfires, aided by high temperatures, winds, and available fuels.”