Saturday, August 04, 2001

Two people die before heat eases

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Friday's break from sweltering temperatures came too late for two Cincinnati residents who died Thursday of heatstroke — the first heat-related deaths of the summer.

        “We have a duty to let people know that when the health department calls a heat alert, it's for real,” said Dr. Carl Parrott, Hamilton County coroner.

        On Thursday, Clifton Heights resident Ronald Buck, 42, collapsed while working in a yard at 2314 Ravine St. He was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital, but could not be revived.

        Also on Thursday, Betty Bright, a 69-year-old Avondale woman, was found dead in her home, with windows closed. The home had an air conditioner, but it was apparently not in use, Dr. Parrott said.

        Both cases were declared heatstroke deaths because the victims' temperatures were 106 degrees or higher, Dr. Parrott said.

        In 1999, Cincinnati made headlines nationwide when a July heat wave killed 18 people. But thanks to a mild summer last year, there were no heat-related deaths declared in 2000.

        Thursday was the fourth day of this summer that had brought a heat alert by the Cincinnati Health Department as a result of humid, 90-degree-plus weather. The most recent alert was lifted Friday.

        Public health officials urge people to limit exertion during the hottest part of the day, take breaks and drink water frequently to avoid heatstroke. People should use air conditioners when they have them, or seek shelter in cooler basements or air-conditioned shelters, homes of friends or family, or even malls.

        Neighbors are urged to check on shut-ins, especially the elderly.


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