HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- The 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 when compared to the last five years.
Marvin Jenkins knows how unforgiving the heat can be. He manages the trailer park at SWE Homes in Highlands, where one of his residents, 81-year-old Noel Webb, was experiencing issues with his air conditioning.
Jenkins said Webb was often seen sitting in his vehicle to get some cool air and seek relief from the scorching temperatures. The property manager said he offered up an extra air conditioning unit, but Webb turned him down.
Webb later died in his home on July 23. The Harris County Medical Examiner's Office ruled his cause of death as hyperthermia.
"It made me feel so bad. I wished I would have went down there and put that air conditioner unit in myself. I just couldn't do it. I'm 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 medical examiner's offices shows this summer's heat wave is unusually dangerous. The numbers from the last five years in southeast Texas indicate that 2023 has already set the record for the highest heat-related deaths in Harris, Fort Bend, and Montgomery counties.
Fort Bend County recorded seven heat-related deaths so far this year when its medical examiner saw no more than a third per year from 2022 to 2019. Officials explained their numbers also include cases where hyperthermia may have been a contributing factor, but not necessarily the main cause of death.
Montgomery County saw one death so far this year when there has been zero since 2018. Galveston County has not recorded any heat-related deaths in recent years.
Since June, Harris County recorded 15 people who died from the heat. One of those people is Jose Romero, who was only 20 years old. His mother, Lupita, shared that 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 need to take care of yourself," the mother told ABC13 over the phone in Spanish.
Experts say heat-related injuries can impact anyone, no matter your age, size, or health condition. Over the weekend, the scorching temperatures sent more than a dozen people to the hospital from a concert in the Woodlands. It also hospitalized 38 Prairie View A&M students who were attending a school-related event on campus.
According to the Houston Health Department, some of the ways you can keep yourself safe are by drinking more water, wearing light-colored clothing, applying sunscreen, and taking cool baths or showers.