Avoiding Heat-Related Deaths

Ernie NeffResearch, Weather

A new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) report showed 215 people in Florida died from heat-related causes in the last 10 years. The fact that heat-related deaths happen throughout the year surprised the researchers who wrote the report.

Serap Gorucu, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering, helped write the report. She and her colleagues analyzed data from Florida Vital Statistics.

“The most surprising finding for me was the distribution of the number of deaths,” Gorucu said. “We saw heat-related deaths year-round. That’s a bit surprising because when you think about heat, I assume that all heat-related deaths are occurring in summer months.”

Of the 215 people who died from heat-related reasons, the highest number of fatalities occurred in June, followed by July and August. Gorucu also found that many of the fatalities from November through March include children who were left in a vehicle. The other victims from November through March were in an enclosed place – a vehicle or a house. Other victims were in a hot vehicle or hot enclosed place while intoxicated.

Of all the heat-related deaths in Florida from 2010 to 2020, 153 (71%) were males; 62 (29%) were females. Forty-six children died from heat – 33 of them were less than 5 years old; 58 people aged 65 and older died.

Gorucu and her co-authors wrote the report to educate the public how to stay safe in the heat. They list some preventive measures to lessen the chance of heat-related illness. Those measures include:

  • Drink plenty of water, seek shade and rest.
  • Do not leave children in vehicles.
  • Schedule but limit outdoor activities.
  • Avoid alcohol and/or drugs.

See the UF/IFAS document, What the Agricultural Sector in Florida Needs to Know about Heat-Related Illness.

Source: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

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