The deaths of six people in Riverside County this month are attributed to heat-related complications, local health officials reported Tuesday.
According to the Department of Public Health, the six deaths occurred between July 7-17, and in each case, the death certificates referred to weather as a contributing factor.
A 91-year-old Riverside woman was the most recent fatality. She died soon after being admitted to Parkview Community Hospital for “prolonged exposure to elevated environmental temperatures” on July 17, according to a health department statement.
A day earlier, an 84-year-old Indio man was found dead in his residence, the victim of heat exposure, DPH officials said.
The health department last week confirmed that four people had died during the first heat wave beginning around July 4. A Hemet couple — an 86- year-old woman and 87-year-old man — were found dead in their Hemet home from exposure on July 8; a 37-year-old man succumbed to heat exposure in a Hemet parking lot on July 7; and on July 16, a 91-year-old Bermuda Dunes man died at home from heat-related illness, according to the county.
Since July 1, the Riverside metropolitan area has recorded highs in excess of 100 degrees on six days, and for the balance of the month to date, temperatures have generally peaked between 95 and 99 degrees, according to National Weather Service data.
At Palm Springs International Airport, highs over 100 have been the norm since July 1 — with only one day of non-triple-digit weather, July 9, when the mercury topped out at 99. The Coachella Valley has experienced several record-setting highs over the past three weeks, according to the NWS.
“Residents and workers in the Coachella Valley and desert areas are encouraged to limit their time outdoors and avoid strenuous activities, even for those who believe they are acclimated to the heat,” the health department said.
The region is under an Excessive Heat Warning due to the current heat wave that’s expected to let up Thursday night. Wednesday’s daytime high in Riverside is expected to be 110, and in Palm Springs, about 120.
Palm Springs and Thermal set maximum temperature records of 119 degrees and 122 degrees, respectively, on Monday.
The California Independent System Operator Corporation issued a statewide Flex Alert that callsfor voluntary electricity conservation from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Weather Service warned that heat islands could form in dense urban areas where human activity causes the temperature to be higher than in open spaces. Heat islands can cause breathing problems, heat cramps, heat stroke, or even death, the NWS said.
County health officials advised locals to take advantage of the 56 cooling centers that opened to the public this month and are available at no cost. A list of cooling centers can be found at http://www.capriverside.org.