Fourth heat-related death of 2008 recorded - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Ben Watson

Fourth heat-related death of 2008 recorded

The area's fourth heat-related death of the year was discovered late last week, the Shelby County Medical Examiner's office said Tuesday.

Shelby County Medical Examiner Dr. Karen Chancellor said the man was found Friday in his apartment, where the temperature inside was 100 degrees. 

The only air flow in the man's apartment apparently came from a small fan, Chancellor said.  An air conditioning unit in the apartment was reportedly turned on, but not working properly.

"He didn't have air conditioning. The windows were closed. There was a fan unit inside the house, but that was the only movement of air," Chancellor said.

Chancellor said the man's death brought the total number of heat-related deaths this year to four, including a 41-year-old Memphis woman who collapsed July 10th in DeSoto County, while working as an employee at a printing company.  The woman was exposed to high temperatures from drying ovens.

Another heat-related death happened on May 30th, moments after a woman told a coworker she was hot.

Chancellor said the heat is a particular threat to the elderly and people with chronic illnesses.

"For example, hypertension, diabetes, obesity...these are the main chronic conditions that we see of people in individuals in Memphis that die of heat related deaths," Chancellor said.

She is concerned there could be more deaths this summer if people aren't careful.
"What's really important is for folks to get out to an air conditioned area when its hot like this for days at a time. If they can get out in an air conditioned area for a few hours then that can be helpful," Chancellor said.
County officials declined to say where the 83-year-old lived, citing privacy issues.  A spokesperson would only say his home is located in south Memphis in an area just north of I-240 and Lamar.

There were 17 heat-related deaths in Shelby County in 2007.

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