Low Heat Casualties Attributed to Better Air Conditioners

NASHVILLE, TN - Temperatures have reached triple digits in some parts of the Mid-South this week.

But experts believe injuries and deaths caused by such extreme temperatures have been drastically reduced reduced of air conditioning.

According to U.S. Census figures from 2005, about 91 percent, or 36 million, of Southern households now have central air conditioning units.

That number has grown considerably since the late 1970s, when about a quarter of southerners didn't have air conditioners.

The most recent statistics from the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation's largest public utility providing power to seven states, show only 2.5 percent of its customers don't have air conditioning.

Since the extreme heat began last Friday, Tennessee health officials say at least 35 people have gone to Memphis emergency rooms for heat-related illnesses.  Hospitals have treated 14 people in Nashville.

Weather officials expect some relief today when a dry cool front comes across the state.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)