More than 1,300 people die from heat-related illnesses in the United States each year. Most of these deaths occur among people who aren’t being treated for chronic medical conditions, but anyone can succumb to heatstroke if they are exposed to high temperatures for too long in a hot environment.
This article looks at heat stroke statistics gathered from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
Table of context:
- What’s considered a heat-related death?
- Heatstroke statistics by state
- Heatstroke Statistics by Age
- Heatstroke Statistics by Demographics
- A summary of key insights + statistics
What’s considered a heat-related death?
A heat-related death occurs when the core temperature of the body reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celsius or higher, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This can happen when someone stays in a hot place for an extended period of time without taking steps to cool down.
To be considered a heat-related death, a person must have died from hyperthermia and have been exposed to high temperatures for an extended period. If a body has been found in a hot area, but there are no other suspicious circumstances surrounding the death, it may still be considered heat-associated.
If a person dies after being exposed to extreme heat for only a short time, such as working on a construction site during peak summer months, they would not be considered a heat-related death by most coroners or medical examiners.
Deaths From Heatstroke By Year
|Year||Number of deaths in the U.S.|
Heatstroke statistics by state
In 2016, more than 6,000 people died from excessive heat exposure in the United States. Texas had the highest number of deaths per capita with an average of 21 deaths per million people over a five-year period. California was second with an average of 18 deaths per million people over the same time period.
Although deaths from heatstroke are on the rise, it varies significantly by state. As of 2021, Nevada had the highest recorded heat-related death rate between 2018 and 2021 with 4.54 deaths per 100,000 people. Arizona came second with 4.46 deaths per 100,000 people.
Oregon had 132 deaths in 2021 alone, ranking third for the state with the highest heat-related death. Michigan had the lowest death rate in the nation with only 11 people killed because of heatstroke.
Deaths From Heatstroke By state
|State||Deaths||Annualized rate per 100,000 people|
Heatstroke Statistics by Age
Seniors have the highest likelihood of experiencing a heat-related death. The rate is higher for older adults over the age of 85 with 0.98 per 100,000 people according to statistics between 2018 and 2021.
Because infants can’t adjust their body temperature as quickly as other groups age, their risk of dying from heatstroke is higher with 0.27 deaths per 100,000 people. The age group with the lowest age group are ages 5 to 14 with 0,01 deaths per 100,000 people.
In 2015, there were 463 cases of severe hyperthermia among children who were less than 18 years old in California alone; 71 percent occurred during summer months when temperatures were high.
Deaths From Heatstroke By Age
|Age group||Deaths||Annualized rate per 100,000 people|
|Less than 1||51||0.27|
|1 to 4||139||0.18|
|5 to 14||27||0.01|
|15 to 24||142||0.07|
|25 to 34||365||0.16|
|35 to 44||526||0.25|
|45 to 54||667||0.33|
|55 to 64||932||0.44|
|65 to 74||878||0.55|
|75 to 84||620||0.77|
|85 and older||323||0.98|
Heatstroke Statistics by Demographics
Household income plays a big role in the likelihood of someone experiencing a heat stroke. Since low-income households are often concentrated in a smaller area, it creates a pool of heat surrounding the location.
This is the leading cause of why heat stroke is more likely to occur in low-income neighborhoods. Low-income households also have less access to health care. Even though heat strokes are oftentimes preventable, not having access to healthcare may result in death.
When it comes to race and nationality, people who are more prone to death from heatstroke are Alaska Natives and American Indians. Between 2018 to 2021, there were 0.71 deaths per 100,000 Alaskan Natives and American Indians. This was twice as high as Caucasians and African Americans.
In general, when it comes to heatstroke symptoms, more goes unexplained than not. Heatstroke is a very serious condition, and the symptoms will differ depending on the individual, their health, and how they were exposed to the heat.
Being aware of the risks that come with spending too much time in the sun is important, so it’s good to know how many people are affected every year by heatstroke. Also, recognizing the signs and symptoms of heatstroke can help you avoid it yourself. While most cases of heatstroke can be avoided if you’re careful, there’s no guarantee that you’ll never experience this condition—so understanding what to do when you see the signs is crucial.