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The Growing Problem Of Heat-Related Deaths In Southern Nevada

Associated Press

Hot summer days are nothing new for Nevadans.  


But the climate is getting hotter, and that makes for a deadly problem that’s likely to get worse. The Clark County Coroner recorded 37 deaths related to heat in 2014 and in 2018, the office recorded 179.

“We call a heat-related death anything that our doctors rule as the cause of death or if heat contributed to the cause of death,” said Clark County Coroner John Fudenburg.

A heat-related death doesn't have to mean that the primary cause of death is the heat. It can be a contributing factor as still be counted as heat-related. 

Fudenburg is not sure why the numbers have increased.

“I know that we had some very significant long periods of time where we had extreme heat in 2016 and 17, and certainly in 18,” he said.

He said the numbers may also reflect a change in how doctors classify some deaths.

A third of all heat-related deaths in Southern Nevada are among the area's homeless population and the vast majority of those who die from heat exposure are Caucasian, he said.

The troubling part of heat-related deaths is they are completely avoidable, Fudenburg said.

“There is just no reason for people in this day and age to be dying because of heat exposure,” he said.

He said during the summer months people need to check on their elderly relatives, friends and neighbors to make sure they are all right. He also said the community needs to keep up measures like Clark County's cooling stations to push the number of deaths down.



John  Fudenburg, coroner, Clark County

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Prior to taking on the role of Broadcast Operations Manager in January 2021, Rachel was the senior producer of KNPR's State of Nevada program for 6 years. She helped compile newscasts and provided coverage for and about the people of Southern Nevada, as well as major events such as the October 1 shooting on the Las Vegas strip, protests of racial injustice, elections and more. Rachel graduated with a bachelor's degree of journalism and mass communications from New Mexico State University.