You've heard it before. The heat this year is DANGEROUS. The number of heat related deaths and illnesses are on the rise along with the temperature.

Tragically, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) has updated the total number of heat-related deaths to 25 for the months of June, July and August after an extensive examination of data from Louisiana Vital Records. The previous total reported on August 4 was 16.
Twenty-two of the deaths were male; three were female. Data shows men are often overrepresented in heat deaths because they are more likely to work outdoors. The age breakdown among individuals is as follows:
  • 30-49: 7
  • 50-64: 6
  • 65+: 12
LDH has been monitoring heat-related emergency department visits since April using syndromic surveillance and began examining heat-related deaths using death records due to the record number of Excessive Heat Warnings issued by the National Weather Service. Governor John Bel Edwards issued a state of emergency due to excessive heat on August 14.
There have been 4,766 heat-related emergency department visits in Louisiana since April 1. From 2010 to 2020, there were an average of 2,700 emergency department visits annually, according to an Office of Public Health (OPH) report released in April. Louisiana continues to monitor heat-related illness and heat-related emergency department visits using syndromic surveillance led by OPH’s Occupational Heat-Related Illness and Injury Program.
“Every life lost to a heat-related cause is tragic, and it is a reminder that excessive heat can carry dangerous health consequences,” said LDH Secretary Stephen Russo. “It is critical that everyone in Louisiana take precautions during extreme heat events, especially workers in physically demanding occupations who are frequently outdoors. Heat-related illness and death are preventable, and I encourage Louisiana residents to know the signs of heat-related illness, stay indoors with air conditioning if possible, and remember to hydrate, rest and stay in the shade if they must be outdoors. They should also check on their neighbors, and loved ones, especially those who are elderly.”
The 25 deaths that were reported to OPH Bureau of Vital Records contained information in the record that indicated the primary or contributing cause of deaths was recorded as either hyperthermia or heat-related. The information provided in a death record is sent to Vital Records through an online system called LEERS.
LDH is planning to launch a dashboard that will display heat-related deaths and will be updated weekly. Total numbers of deaths per month and demographic data is subject to change as death records are continually filed with Vital Records. In some cases, it can take eight weeks or more to finalize investigations and file death records. This is due to a number of factors, such as coroners awaiting investigative information like toxicology reports or autopsy results.
All Louisiana residents should follow the heat-related guidance published by the Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Public Health. Healthcare providers should refer to the Health Alert Network message issued on August 2.
LDH also suggests the following guidance for public messaging warning people of the danger extreme heat poses to public health:
  • Extreme heat is dangerous. Exposure to heat greater than or equal to 95 degrees can lead to heat stress, resulting in heat-related illness. Heat stress and heat-related illness occur when the body cannot cool itself enough to maintain a healthy temperature.
  • Heat stress can be fatal. In Louisiana, heat was the most common cause of death during hurricanes Delta, Zeta, Laura and Ida.
  • Of the 65 deaths attributed to the four storms collectively, 23 were due to extreme heat.
  • Know what to do about heat exhaustion.
  • Heat exhaustion symptoms can include muscle pain or spasms; cold, pale, clammy skin; tiredness or weakness and dizziness; and headache and fainting.
  • Move to a cool place and loosen your clothes, put a cool, wet cloth on your body or take a cool bath.
  • Sip on water, and seek medical attention if you’re throwing up and/or if your symptoms last longer than an hour.
  • Know what to do about heat stroke.
  • Heat stroke symptoms can include a high body temperature (103F or higher); hot, red, dry or damp skin; fast, strong pulse; headache and dizziness; nausea and confusion; and loss of consciousness (passing out).
  • Call 911 right away: Heat stroke is a medical emergency.
  • Move to a cool place and loosen your clothes, put a cool, wet cloth on your body or take a cool bath.
  • Do not drink anything.
  • Be aware of your risk. Groups at higher risk of heat-related illness include:
  • Outdoor workers
  • Individuals with heart, lung and/or kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity
  • Pregnant women
  • Older adults
  • Athletes
  • Young children
  • Air conditioning is the strongest protection against heat-related illness. Exposure to air conditioning even for a few hours a day will reduce the risk of health-related illness. If your air conditioning is not working, go to a public place with electricity, like a library or mall, or local heat-relief shelters. Follow the news and social media, including LDH and local health departments, for locations.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks.
  • Stay in the shade.
  • Limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
  • Check on people who live alone, especially the elderly.

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