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Extreme temperatures proven fatal in Desert Southwest

13 On Your Side's Vanessa Gongora spoke with the sheriff's office in both Yuma and Imperial County to find out how many people have lost their lives due to the heat

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - With July being the hottest month ever to be recorded on Earth, the scorching temperatures are fatal, especially in the Desert Southwest.

The Yuma County Sheriff's Office said there have been 17 deaths this year related to heat exposure, 12 of those were in July.

And in 2022, there were 57 heat-related deaths throughout Yuma County.

In Imperial County only one heat-related death is confirmed but many are pending, according to Sgt. George Figueroa, Imperial County Supervising Deputy Coroner.

"Last year we had 24. Currently for this month we have 15," said Figueroa.

These numbers do include migrant deaths in both counties.

Sgt. Figueroa said there isn't a specific city where the deaths happen.

"It just varies from location to location whether they're transients or elderly subjects. Some individuals probably didn't have transportation and they're walking in this heat," continued Figueroa.

Location is also important in helping determine a cause of death.

"Where they were found at the time. For example, let's say the individual was rushed over to the hospital and they got a temperature read of 109, that's something that's fatal," said Figueroa.

Sgt. Figueroa said if you have to be outside, be aware.

"When you are planning activities outside make sure that obviously you're providing shade, hydration, limiting the amount of time you are outside," explained Figueroa. "This way you can prevent yourself from getting heat exhaustion or even heatstroke."

He also recommends wearing light-colored and loose-fitted clothing and always having water on hand.

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Vanessa Gongora

Vanessa Gongora joined the KYMA team in 2022 and is the anchor/producer for CBS at 4 p.m.

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