Amid Statewide Heatwave, Dallas County Reports First Heat-Related Death of 2022

Dallas and the rest of North Texas have been enduring a brutal heatwave.
Dallas and the rest of North Texas have been enduring a brutal heatwave. Chuchart Duangdaw/Getty Images
Amid an ongoing heatwave and prolonged drought, Dallas County reported the first heat-related death thus far in 2022 on Thursday.

In a press release, Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) said the victim was a 66-year-old woman who lived in Dallas and had “underlying health conditions.”

"We are very saddened to report our first heat-related death this season," Dr. Philip Huang, DCHHS’ director, said in the release.

"We are experiencing extreme heat this season, and this again reminds us how important it is to take every possible precaution," Huang added. "Hydrate constantly and limit your time outdoors to protect against the intense heat."

The death comes as many areas around Texas are grappling with increased summer temperatures, water shortages and wildfires.

DCHHS urged Dallas County residents without air conditioning to contact authorities, explaining that they may be eligible for emergency window units.

Between 2018 and 2021, heat-related deaths spiked by some 56% nationwide, according to preliminary estimates by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During that period, at least 378 heat-related deaths were documented in Texas.

Between 2004 and 2018, the CDC already reported an average of more than 700 heat deaths each year.

In June, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study that found that extreme heatwaves have put children's health at greater risk.

Linking rising temperatures to climate change and growing air pollution from fossil fuel emissions, that study noted, "Exposure to heat waves during in utero development is associated with increased risks of preterm birth and low birth weight; hyperthermia and death among infants; and heat stress, kidney disease, and other illnesses among children."

On Wednesday, the temperature hit 109 at DFW International Airport, breaking the record for that date set in 2018, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Throughout the week, counties around North Texas and elsewhere in the state battled wildfires that had burned land, destroyed buildings and forced many to evacuate. Texas A&M's Forest Service told the Observer they expected blazes to continue throughout next week.

Last week, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the state's power grid, issued an appeal to residents and businesses to conserve energy amid elevated temperatures. 
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Patrick Strickland is the former news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's worked as a senior reporter at Al Jazeera English. His reporting has appeared in the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.

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