KNXV: Phoenix Approves New Plan To Combat Heat-Related Deaths

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KNXV: Phoenix Approves New Plan To Combat Heat-Related Deaths
According to health data, Maricopa County has seen a 400% increase in heat-related deaths since 2014.

Phoenix leaders are launching their new heat response plan to help keep people safe this summer. Part of the plan includes turning a vacant building into a cooling center for the homeless.

The number of heat-related deaths in Arizona hit a record high in 2021.

According to the Maricopa County Department of Health, there were 338 deaths associated with heat last year. That's a 400% increase compared to 2014.

Most of those deaths are taking place within Phoenix, and a lot of those involve people living on the street.

Recently, Phoenix City Council members approved a comprehensive plan that included creating a new shelter.

"What we intend to do is provide a 200-bed shelter for individuals to get out of the heat and elements but also provide intense case management," said Scott Hall, an official with the city's human services department.

In addition to cooling centers and resources, the city will continue closing down hiking trails on extremely hot days. Officials said there's no start date for many of these initiatives but they're likely to start soon.

"Public cooling centers will generally come online May 1, and that's a regionally coordinated effort, and there are specific elements like when particular trailheads close that are limited to particular days when the National Weather Service has an excessive heat warning in effect," said David Hondula, the director of the city's office of heat response and mitigation.