The Heat Is On: Apartment Deaths In Extreme Weather

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When the temperatures and humidity rise well beyond the norm in many parts of the country over the summer, people become more conservative with overrunning their air-conditioning. In some apartments and housing buildings, the climate is controlled by a maintenance department so that everyone does not adjust it “on” and “off” all day long. Sometimes the air conditioning or power goes out due to an electrical storm or a faulty box, and the city or municipality is not quick enough to restore that energy back to the apartment or home. When the conditions become extreme, particularly among those who are unable to care for themselves fully, or those who disregard or do not know about the conditions outside, the heat can become a deadly factor. Sadly, the extreme costs of cooling a residence leads many people to use the air-conditioning sparingly, or not at all. Some states have utilized a “meter box” where someone pays an amount for power. The box then tracks how much power is used, and therefore how much is left in the account. Many residents find that half way through the month they are already at a credit low. When the account reaches zero, everything shuts off. While the program is not ideal, it does prevent someone from having his or her power shut completely off.

According to a study at Arizona State University, “heat deaths are the number one cause of death from weather-related issues in the United States.” That is no surprise when we hear of hikers who die, tourists who visit parks and theme destinations, and those who stay out in the sun far too long, working on a tan. Those who rent in lower income housing areas are more at risk, because they lack the technology or funds to keep up with proper cooling.

Loss of power and air-conditioning can yield deadly results if power is not restored quickly enough. Residents may be unprepared for the outage, and therefore, have no power backup such as a generator, or they find themselves with food that can be eaten only heated or chilled. Water runs out quickly and ice melts. People die of dehydration and overheating.

If you know someone who has suffered or died as a result of poor maintenance when the power or air-conditioning failed to operate in the deadly heat of summer, there may be an issue trying to determine who was at fault in a case like this. A New York attorney familiar with this type of case is your first best course of action.