Mortality from environmental heat is a significant public health problem in Maricopa County, especially because it is largely preventable. Maricopa County has conducted heat surveillance since 2006. Each year, the enhanced heat surveillance season usually begins in May and ends in October. The main goals of heat surveillance are to identify the demographic characteristics of heat-associated deaths (e.g., age and gender) and the risk factors for mortality (e.g., homelessness). Sharing this information helps community stakeholders to design interventions in an effort to prevent heat-associated deaths among vulnerable populations.
The two main sources of data for heat surveillance are: preliminary reports of death (PRODs) from the Office of the Medical Examiner (OME) and death certificates from the MCDPH Office of Vital Registration.
Heat-associated deaths are classified as heat-caused or heat related. Heat-caused deaths are those in which environmental heat was directly involved in the sequence of conditions causing deaths. Heat-related deaths are those in which environmental heat contributed to the deaths but was not in the sequence of conditions causing these deaths. For more information on how heat-associated deaths are classified, see the definitions in Appendix. For more information on MCDPH’s surveillance system, see Background and Methodology.