The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Wednesday that 17 people in Spokane County have died from heat related illnesses in the last week.
The Pacific Northwest experienced record breaking temperatures, with the city of Spokane reaching an all-time high of 109 last Tuesday.
According to the Medical Examiner, the county saw more heat exposure deaths in the last seven days, than in the last six years. Since 2015, there had been 13 heat exposure deaths.
Those that died from heat illnesses in the last week ranged in age from 26 to 84 years old. Most were found alone, in a house or apartment without air conditioning.
Many had underlying health conditions that made them more vulnerable to the heat, or cognitive impairment or mobility issues, making it more difficult for to go to find a safe, cool place.
Spokane County Medical Examiner Dr. Veena Singh said that she expects the number of deaths from heat related illness to increase before the end of the summer.
“Unfortunately, I expect that the true number of deaths related to this extreme weather event will probably be higher before the end of summer and once all hospital deaths are examined," she said. "The high number of deaths for this region emphasizes the importance of all of us being aware of the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, realizing how lethal these conditions can be, and checking on our neighbors, relatives, and friends to ensure that they are safe.”