NPR Story
4:19 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Three Southwestern States See 40 Percent Of Heat Deaths

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — About 650 Americans die each year of heat exposure, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC said that number has remained steady over the last decade.

About 40 percent of the heat related deaths over this 10-year period occurred in Arizona, California and Texas. In other studies lower socioeconomic status has been associated with heat illness and heat-related deaths.

"We didn’t see a huge decrease in heat-related deaths compared to previous years," said Ethel Taylor, epidemiologist with the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health. "That really provides us an opportunity to encourage people to be aware of the risks of heat exposure even when daily temperatures aren’t that high."

Heat-related deaths were reported most frequently among males and seniors. Taylor said climatic data, differences in demographics and in occupations need to be studied to understand why so many deaths occurred in the southwest.

The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report did include foreign nationals. Many of those deaths were likely migrants trying to cross the border.

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