Deadly hot weather in the South Bay

Officials in Santa Clara County on Wednesday confirmed there have been at least 18 heat-related deaths in the recent Bay Area heatwave. 

The medical examiner's office said the investigations into these deaths are ongoing. Officials said eight of the people who died were seniors who were found inside their homes. 

At least two of the victims in total were unhoused. Another person who died was living in transitional housing. 

An excessive heat warning is in effect for the Santa Clara Valley including San Jose and the East Bay interior valleys until Friday at 8 p.m. The warning includes a significant threat to property or life from the extreme weather conditions. 

According to the Santa Clara County Office of Emergency Management, besides death, the heat can result in heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, sunburn, and heat rash. 

County officials advise helping family members, friends and neighbors and those who are vulnerable, such as people who are elderly and without air conditioning.

The county's hot weather safety page includes information that says to inform those with mental illness and drug or alcohol disorders that they should get to air-conditioned spaces, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. 

The Office of Emergency Management advised to drink plenty of water: "Drink water even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, or lots of sugar because they will speed up fluid loss.
Limit physical activity: Avoid physical activity during the hottest time of the day—10 a.m.-3 p.m."

Temperatures are expected to be in the 90s and triple digits for the next three days.

This week we reported how heat claimed lives in a San Jose homeless encampment

The coroner said it could take weeks to know how many other people have died due to the heat, but with another heat wave on the way, advocates are concerned about those who are most vulnerable. 

"Even when the heat wave ends, it still only cools down to like 88. So it's still really hot for the people that are out in these camps," said Shaunn Cartwright of the Unhoused Response Group. "A lot of the conditions that people have when you’re older are heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. A lot of times, you don’t really notice when you’re starting to get affected by the heat."  

"Heat is the number one weather killer," says KTVU meteorologist Roberta Gonzales. She recalls working in the Chicago area during the mid-'90s when a historical heat wave killed hundreds of people in the span of a week. 

The heat wave that started on the week of the 4th of July has been prolonged. Gonzales said scientists are concerned with the length of heat waves these days. "They used to be two or three days," she said. 

Cartwright said so far this month, eight other people have died on the streets in Santa Clara County, but the coroner hasn’t confirmed if any of them died due to extreme heat.  

You can find a list of cooling centers in the South Bay here