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Study: As triple-digit temperatures return so does the risk for heat-related deaths

Posted: 11:56 PM, Jun 05, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-09 11:19:23-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — With the triple-digit temperatures in Las Vegas comes a reminder to take care of your loved ones and yourself. A recent study shows heat-related deaths are on the rise.

Children were enjoying a warm evening on the playground on Wednesday at Desert Breeze Park with weather that was finally more like a typical June in Las Vegas. But, as much as children love the summer sun, they are especially vulnerable to extreme heat. Children, the elderly, people over 50 and homeless people are among the populations most vulnerable to the heat.

Sudden and prolonged heat waves often dominate the news even here in the desert.

"I was born and raised here,” said Taylor Chavez. “So, it’s normal and it’s getting worse by the minute."

And it appears it’s not just hype. There is ample reason to be concerned. We talked to physician assistant Oscar Garcia at P3 Medical Group about a new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology. It’s based on research that included students and faculty from the University of Nevada. The study shows heat-related deaths in Clark County have increased as we've had more days of extreme heat.

“Yes, the heat can be deadly,” said Garcia. “You really have to watch yourself out in the sun as the sun can have damaging effects on your body.”

The study looked at heat-related deaths 2007 and 2016 finding 437 in Las Vegas alone during that time. The highest number was in 2016 which the study says had one of the highest heat index measures over a period of 35 years.

13 Investigates looked at heat death numbers in June of 2018. Numbers from the Clark County Coroner's Office indicated that in 20-17 135 people died from heat related causes in Clark county. Las Vegas newcomers often recognize how heat affects their bodies.

I'm from Hawaii so it’s like a humid hot,” said Cheryl Kapahu. “And here it’s a dry hot. Back at home I could deal with the heat but here the skin gets dry. You have to drink more water.”

But we're all at risk.

“Don’t rely on that as a gauge. Oh, I've been living here for however many years I'm used to it. Because you could quickly find yourself a victim of heat stroke or heat exhaustion,” Garcia said. “Whether you've been living here one day or 10 years it’s going to affect you. The heat is going to affect you. The danger is the same.”