Recent Deaths Underscore Health Risks Posed by Extreme Heat

Created on Monday, 25 July 2011 14:58

Contact: Collette DuValle, 317-221-2463

Since 1990, Indianapolis has reported 18 heat related deaths, the last two confirmed by the Marion County Coroner today (Monday). That brings to three the number of heat related deaths reported in Indianapolis this year. The first death was recorded in June. The previous high number of heat related fatalities in Indianapolis since 1990 occurred in 2001 when three deaths were recorded.

“These deaths are a tragic reminder to the real threat heat poses,” said Virginia A. Caine, M.D., director, Marion County Public Health Department.

Even if heat is not the primary cause of death, if it is documented as a secondary or contributing cause on the death certificate, it is counted as a heat related death.

During the recent heat wave, public health officials have been concerned about the welfare of the elderly, the very young, those with chronic health conditions and those who are overweight. These individuals are considered to be in the at-risk group for heat related illness.

“Heat can impact anyone no matter their age or health condition,” said Dr. Caine.

Community centers, city parks, libraries, shopping centers and churches are among sites where the public can seek relief from the heat.

Health officials are asking family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and the faith community to check on elderly individuals they know, anyone who may be homebound, those with chronic disease and those without air conditioning. Such health visits are important throughout the year, but especially in times of extreme weather.

The Marion County Public Health Department will continue to provide heat related information at or by contacting the health department call center at 221-2415. The call center is available to provide non-emergency, heat-related information from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Annual breakdown for heat related death in Marion County since 1990:

1990-1993 No deaths reported during this time
1994 2 deaths reported
1995 1 death reported
1996 No deaths reported
1997 1 death reported
1998 No deaths reported
1999 2 deaths were reported
2000 1 death was reported
2001 3 deaths were reported
2002 1 death was reported
2003 No deaths reported
2004 No deaths reported
2005 No deaths reported
2006 1 death was reported
2007 1 death reported
2008 No deaths reported
2009 No deaths reported
2010 2 deaths reported
2011 3 deaths reported as of July 25, 2011