Philadelphia confirms heat-related deaths

Health leaders confirm new heat related-deaths.

An open fire hydrant is pictured on Reese Street in Philly's Hunting Park neighborhood

Reese Street residents in Hunting Park opened a fire hydrant during a heatwave on July 20, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The Philadelphia Health Department is confirming a new heat related-death, bringing the total in the last week to now five. The name and further details on cause of death for the latest death were not released.

City leaders reported four deaths earlier this week. All were listed as accidental in nature.  According to a Department of Public Health spokesperson, heat was the main factor in one person’s death and contributed to three others.

The four deaths are all listed as accidental in nature. Two of the victims suffered from heart disease, while another one died from drug intoxication with heat playing a factor. The department declined to release the ages of the deceased. Here are details as provided by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health:

Joyce Plottel

  •  Cause of death: Hypertensive cardiovascular disease.
    • Secondary cause: environmental hyperthermia.
      • Manner of death: Accident

William Striker

  •  Cause of death: Artherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
    •   Secondary cause: environmental hyperthermia
      • Manner of death: Accident

Gerald Hopewell

  •    Cause of death: Drug intoxication.
    • Secondary cause: environmental hyperthermia.
      • Manner of death: Accident

John Pecoraio Jr.

  • Cause of death: Environmental Hyperthermia.
    • Secondary cause: Hypertensive cardiovascular disease.
      • Manner of death: Accident
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Public Health Communications Director James Garrow says these are examples of the heat not being the only thing to worry about during a heat wave.

“It’s not just the heat that can kill you. It’s all of these other related things that the heat makes worse. And this is why one of our primary messages is to check on residents and around you and older family members and neighbors that might be shut in just to make sure that they’re okay.”

Garrow says more heat related deaths could be reported in the coming days.

“Just because the emergency ends doesn’t mean that the mortality has ended. Sometimes folks won’t be discovered for a couple of days. Or, you know, people are stressed by the heat and eventually don’t succumb for another day or two.”

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The heat wave reached its peak on Sunday when temperatures reached 99 degrees. According to 6abc, it was the hottest day in 10 years.

Temperatures are predicted to climb back into the 90s on Thursday.

In 2011, 35 people died from heat-related causes in Philadelphia. The city also dealt with multiple 100-degree days that year.

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