Some found dead during heat wave were inside sealed up homes

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Five people died in Milwaukee last week -- possibly as a result of the heat and humidity. In one of the cases, authorities suspect neglect, and health officials say these deaths could have been prevented.

Police found 69-year-old Francis Loichinger lying on top of a mound of garbage in a Milwaukee home with no electricity. All the while, his partner was supposedly living in the vacant home next door.

Neighbors were saddened to hear Loichinger's death is being treated as possible neglect or abuse, after he was found very dirty, with bruises on his legs.

Loichinger was admitted to the hospital on Thursday, July 18th, and then died on Friday.

79-year-old Roger Smith was found sweltering in his 98 degree apartment on North Cambridge Avenue on Friday. There was no air conditioning unit or fan.

Friends tried to get Smith outside during the heat wave.

A Medical Examiner's report says Smith was schizophrenic. He was found with multiple layers of clothing on during a time when heat indices were in the 100s.

"He liked to wear all his clothes. He would explain 'some people like to take my clothes.' He was comfortable that way," a friend told FOX6 News.

Smith's core temperature was 107 degrees when he was found.

A 71-year-old man was found in a home on 85th Street on Friday. Officials say the thermostat was actually set on heat, and his core temperature was 102 degrees. The house was sealed up with no windows open, no fans, and no air conditioning.

"Very tragic and unfortunate, but not surprising," Paul Biedrzycki with the Milwaukee Health Department said.

Biedrzycki says those most susceptible to heat illnesses need to be checked on at least three to four times a day during extreme heat.

"There is this link with people who have underlying behavioral or mental issues, that may not make a decision or be able to make decisions to be protective of their own health," Biedrzycki said.

Biedrzycki says medications can even have an adverse effect.

"The type of medications that can an inhibit sweating or cooling, or reduce your tolerance to heat, including those that are used to treat hypertension and high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and various other types of mental health disorders including prescription drugs used to treat anxiety for example," Biedrzycki said.

To avoid dehydration and risk of heat illness, Biedrzycki urges folks to take this break with cooler weather to make plans for when the next heat wave arrives.