Heat wave may have claimed two lives in Houston

August 7, 2011 4:03:45 PM PDT
Autopsies were performed Sunday on two bodies discovered the day before in a home without air conditioning. Results are pending, but officials believe the deaths were caused by the hot weather.

The bodies of an elderly woman in her 80s and her daughter, in her 50s, may have been in the house for up to two weeks before they were discovered, officials said.

At least one neighbor who knew the women said they struggled with keeping cool in this heat wave.

They had two fans and no A/C. Mattresses were found next to the window. It appears they were sleeping there just to get some air.

With the feels-like temperature outside approaching 110 degrees for several days in a row, the heat must have been unbearable inside this two-story, single-family home.

Neighbor Brenda Rogers reached out to the pair a couple of days ago.

"When I heard about the [free] A/C units [from the city], they're the first street on my list so they were one of the first ones I called, but of course no one answered the phone," she said.

The women were discovered Saturday after a neighbor called police.

"They smelled this odor for almost a week.Right now, we don't see any signs of foul play. It's just a possibility that it could be a heat-related incident," Martinez said.

They may be the city's first two heat-related deaths this year. Houston city council member Wanda Adams is asking her constituents to be proactive as the heat emergency continues.

"We're just asking the citizens to please check on their neighbors. And if anyone wants to donate any air conditioners, they can donate them to the city of Houston health department because we are taking those donations to be able to help, because we have a long list of seniors that are calling the city of Houston for A/Cs," Adams said.

We are bracing now for yet another week with no immediate relief from the heat in sight. Even those who are healthy and physically fit are at risk if they're not careful.

To those on a fixed income who are thinking about keeping the A/C off this week to save money, Kathy Barton with the city's health department says, 'Don't.'

"You don't have to cool your entire house. One room is sufficient. You don't have to cool it down to the low 70s -- 78-80 is sufficient enough to have a positive impact on your health," Barton said.

Adams says she's going to call Reliant Energy on Monday to see what else can be done to help seniors decrease their utility bills.

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