PHOENIX — A preliminary report from the Maricopa County Department of Health shows 339 heat-associated deaths occurred in 2021. The health department splits the deaths into two categories with 145 deaths occurring directly due to the heat and 194 considered heat-related. This marks the second consecutive year the valley of the sun reported over 300 heat-associated deaths, a dramatic increase from years past.
The number of heat-associated deaths is similar to 2020 when 323 people died from the heat. The increase from 2019 is stark. More than a seventy percent jump in heat-associated deaths between 2019 and 2020.
There were six excessive heat warnings issued in 2021 totaling six days, the longest of these happened in June when Phoenix recorded its highest temperature of the year. 28% of heat associated deaths happened on these days.
The report shows a clear trend of heat-associated deaths happening less frequently indoors. One-quarter of heat deaths last year occurred indoors. Of those indoor heat deaths, almost one third came from residents living in a mobile home. This is statistically out of proportion since mobile homes make up only 13% of housing units in the county.
Another clear trend is that heat deaths in 2020 and 2021 impacted the homeless community at higher rates than in years past. Around 60% of those that died from heat in 2020 were homeless. Between 2006 when the data begins and 2016, the number of homeless heat deaths averaged 21%.