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At least 15 die in King County from heat-related illnesses during historic heat wave

Fifteen people died in King County from heat-related illnesses, and more than 500 others visited emergency departments for problems related to the heat.

KING COUNTY, Wash. — At least 15 people have died in King County from heat-related illnesses during western Washington's historic heat wave, and two people drowned, according to the King County Medical Examiner's Office on Friday.

The King County Medical Examiner reported two heat-related deaths on Monday and one drowning, and 11 more heat-related deaths and a second drowning were reported Tuesday, officials said. Two additional heat-related deaths were reported Friday.

Monday was the hottest day of the heat wave, with Seattle setting a new all-time record high temperature of 108 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

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Public Health -- Seattle & King County released data showing the number of emergency department visits during the heat wave. 

On Monday, there were 232 emergency department visits for heat-related illness among King County residents, which represented about 10% of all emergency department visits for that day, health officials reported. 

In comparison, emergency departments in King County reported 99 visits on Sunday, and 42 visits Saturday.

There was also a spike in Emergency Medical Service (EMS) calls related to the heat. King County reported 225 heat-related EMS incidents Monday and 78 on Sunday. 

In 2020, there were only 91 heat-related EMS calls for the entire year, health officials said.

Of patients who were discharged, about 45% had heat exhaustion, 20% had heatstroke and sunstroke and 17% were dehydrated.

The county also released data on the number of drownings over the last week. 

Since Sunday, two drowning incidents were reported in King County. There were six incidents in the previous week. 

As temperatures continue to be unseasonably warm this week, King County health officials have warned that water safety is critical. 

Here's how to protect yourself on the water:

  • Wear a life vest, or have a floatation device on hand.
  • Swim along the shoreline instead of out in open water.
  • Let people know where you are.
  • Do not use drugs or alcohol while on the water.