Week-long heat wave claims first Memphis victim

The heat wave that has blanketed Memphis for nearly a week has claimed its first victim. According to the Shelby County Medical Examiner, a 54-year-old woman was found dead in her home Wednesday.

Officials said a preliminary autopsy indicated heat was a contributing factor in her death. The woman has not yet been identified.

Medical Examiner Karen Chancellor said an autopsy "indicated that heat was a contributing factor in the death," the Health Department said. Chancellor was awaiting a toxicology report for a final ruling on the death, which would be the first heat-related death in Tennessee this summer.

Between last Friday and Thursday, at least 52 people went to hospital emergency rooms in Memphis because of heat-related health problems, authorities said.

Hospitals had treated 14 people in Nashville. "Although ... the elderly and very young are at greatest risk during this heat wave, the general population needs to take precautions," the Shelby County Health Department said in an advisory.

Among other precautions, Tennessee residents are urged to stay indoors during the heat of the day, avoid strenuous activities and drink lots of water.

Temperatures climbed to 104 in Nashville on Thursday, just one degree shy of a record set in 1930.

Highs throughout the state were around 100 and have been there for more than three days. The temperature at the Memphis airport was recorded at 102 degrees on Friday.

Highs for the rest of the western half of the state were forecast to be near 100, with Knoxville and the eastern end of the state topping off in the mid-90s, according to the National Weather Service.