With the weather as perfect as it was last night, it’s pretty easy to forget about the excessive heat and humidity that consumed the country last week. But as the city’s medical examiners continue to perform autopsies on New Yorkers who died last week, we’re finding that the death count from the heat wave continues to climb with more than 10 deaths being added to the list since Friday. An 80-year-old Queens woman and a 60-year-old Bronx man are just the latest who succumbed to hyperthermia in the days that were so hot that Bloomie had to declare a city emergency. They bring the total death count to 26, with 13 in Queens, one in the Bronx, four in Manhattan, and eight in Brooklyn. While some City dwellers were just without air conditioning, some had chronic medical conditions that made them particularly susceptible to the temperature and couldn’t get out of their apartments to get to a public cooling center. But sometimes it’s not entirely possible to find out if a death was caused by the heat, probably leading to an underestimation of the actual death toll. A trick to help sort out the mess is to figure out how many deaths normally occur during that time of year and counting the excess.
Either way, there is no excuse for even one person dying from the heat in a city as great and resourceful as this. This should be a wake-up call to the rest of us, who have our health, to check on our elderly and disabled neighbors the next time a city crisis strikes.
That being said, we applaud Bloomie for sticking around last week, even canceling a trip to Ireland to steer the city through the stickiness. This may seem like the expected mayoral response but this is in contrast to many of Chicago’s top officials who skipped town during the 1995 heat wave where over 500 deaths went down in that city.
And have some sympathy for our southern neighbors, it looks like the heat wave's spending some time down in those there parts.