2023 will be Harris, Ford Bend counties’ highest heat-related summer in five years

HARRIS COUNTY, TX (KTRK) – Record-breaking heat in Southeast Texas is killing more people than usual. Data obtained by ABC13 shows this summer is already the deadliest in Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties compared to the past five years.

READ MORE: Woman to raise awareness of heat-related deaths after her 67-year-old brother died in Harris County

Marvin Jenkins knows how unrelenting the heat can be. He manages SWE Homes' caravan park in the Highlands, where one of its residents, 81-year-old Noel Webb, was experiencing problems with his air conditioning.

Jenkins said Webb was often seen sitting in his vehicle to get some cool air and recover from the scorching temperatures. The property manager said he offered extra air conditioning, but Webb declined.

Webb later died at his home on July 23. The Harris County Medical Examiner's Office ruled hyperthermia as the cause of death.

“I felt so bad. I wish I had gone there and installed the air conditioning. I just couldn't. I am disabled. I really didn't know he was suffering like that.” Jenkins said. “It's very dangerous. I come outside and I can't even stay outside for 20 minutes.”

Data from multiple coroners shows this summer's heatwave is unusually dangerous. Figures for the past five years in Southeast Texas suggest that 2023 has already set the record for the highest heat-related deaths in Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties.

Fort Bend County has recorded seven heat-related deaths so far this year, while its coroner saw no more than a third a year from 2022 through 2019. Officials explained that their numbers also include cases where hyperthermia may have been a factor, but was not necessarily the main cause of death.

Montgomery County has had one death so far this year, while there has been zero since 2018. Galveston County has not recorded any heat-related deaths in recent years.

The heat has killed 15 people in Harris County since June. One of those people is Jose Romero, who was only 20 years old. His mother, Lupita, said he wanted to stay in shape so he could join the army and died while exercising at a nearby park on June 24.

“I want the public to be educated about the heat because even if you think it's not that hot outside you have to take care of yourself,” the mom told ABC13 in Spanish over the phone.

READ MORE: 38 Prairie View A&M students hospitalized with heat-related illnesses at school event

Experts say heat-related injuries can affect anyone, regardless of age, size or medical condition. Over the weekend, searing temperatures sent more than a dozen people hospitalized from a concert in the Woodlands. It was also hospitalized 38 Prairie View A&M students attending a school-related event on campus.

According to the Houston Health Department, some of the ways you can protect yourself are by drinking more water, wearing light-colored clothing, applying sunscreen, and taking cool baths or showers.

For more on this story, see Rosie Nguyen Facebook, Twitter And Instagram.

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