St. Louis Medical Examiner Confirms Three Heat-Related Deaths

Jul 2, 2012 at 3:09 pm
click to enlarge The raging sun claims its first victims this year.
The raging sun claims its first victims this year.
Dr. Michael Graham of the St. Louis Medical Examiner's Office has confirmed that three people died from the heat this past weekend. These are the first heat-related deaths of the summer.

An 74-year-old woman was found dead in Downtown St. Louis at 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning; she has not been identified pending notification of her family. Willie Hall, 80, was discovered on the second story of his home at 200 East College at 4:35 Saturday afternoon. Orena Brown, 83, was the third victim to succumb to the heat; she was pronounced dead at 8:49 a.m. Sunday in her home in the 5900 block of Mimika Avenue.

All three of the deceased had air conditioners.

The problem is that their air conditioners either weren't working properly or weren't turned on. Ambient temperatures in the rooms in which each person was found ranged from 85 to 110 degrees. The low end of that doesn't sound too bad, but body temperatures ranged from 103.6 to 106 degrees.

St. Louis Health Director Pam Walker notes that "Occasionally, seniors' ability to fight off the heat -- and their bodies' ability to recognize the heat -- can be compromised," which makes for dangerous situations. That's why the Health Department urges people with older neighbors and relatives to make a home visit to ensure that everything is all right. The consequences of not checking on senior citizens can be deadly.

There are many cooling centers available in the metro area; a full list is here. Because many of the most at-risk people do not have internet access (or just aren't comfortable online), you should check that out yourself and spread the word to your older friends and loved ones.