More than 330 people lost their lives to heat last year
For Immediate ReleaseContact: Kelly Taft, MAG, 602-452-5020
Kelli Williams, MAG, 602-452-5060
PHOENIX (May 1, 2022) – As temperatures climb, it is important to remember that heat can be deadly. The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) wants residents to know how they can find shelter from the heat, and how they can help others who might be vulnerable.
The Heat Relief Network, organized each year by MAG, launches today with warnings that all residents are at risk, no matter their age or circumstance.
More than 330 people in Maricopa County died from heat-related illness in 2021, according to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. The region has seen a disturbing increase in heat-related deaths over the years, from 61 confirmed deaths in 2014 to 338 in 2021. While most of the deaths occurred in July and August, anytime the heat starts climbing into the triple digits, residents are at risk.
“We are entering the summer months, and a period of time when high temperatures can significantly threaten health for all Valley residents,” said MAG Regional Council Chair John Giles, mayor of Mesa. “We want residents to know the Heat Relief Network is a resource for them to find locations where they can go to find relief by getting water, shade and other resources.”
MAG coordinates with partners throughout the region to implement the Heat Relief Network, and produces an interactive regional map detailing locations and times of cooling centers, hydration stations, and donation sites for those in need. The Heat Relief Network includes participation from hundreds of regional partners. The map is available online at the Heat Relief Network.
“We are especially concerned for vulnerable populations, like those experiencing homelessness and older adults on fixed incomes who can’t afford to turn on their air conditioning. Even those in good physical shape can die in the heat,” said Rob Podlogar, co-chair of the Continuum of Care Board and chief community development and engagement officer with Valley of the Sun United Way.
Partners can join the network as a cooling center, an indoor and air-conditioned building where people can get out of the heat and cool down; as a hydration station, an indoor or outdoor location that provides water; or by collecting donations for network partners. Last year, 260 organizations participated in the network. Organizations of any size can sign up on the Heat Relief Network. Individuals can assist by donating water.
Below are tips that everyone can take to avoid heat-related illness.
- Never leave infants, children or pets inside a parked vehicle
- Increase fluid intake regardless of activity level. Staying hydrated is extremely important.
- Limit exercise or outdoor activity between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- When outdoors, wear a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 and reapply often. Wear a hat, lightweight clothing and sunglasses.
- Rest frequently in shady or cool areas to give the body's temperature a chance to recover and cool down.
- Respectfully check on older or vulnerable neighbors to make sure their air conditioning is working and in use.
- Take advantage of free air-conditioning by visiting locations like shopping malls, the library or other heat refuge locations provided on the map.