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    Department of Health reminds Marylanders to stay safe in hot weather

    Three heat-related deaths have occurred so far in 2016


    BALTIMORE, MD (July 22, 2016) – As Maryland prepares for extreme heat this weekend, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reminds residents to take precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses.


    “Heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable,” said Public Health Services Deputy Secretary Dr. Howard Haft. “We want all Marylanders to have the information they need to stay safe this summer, to prevent any further deaths.”

    Heat stroke is a serious illness characterized by a body temperature higher than 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius). Symptoms may include confusion or altered mental state, a lack of sweat, and the occurrence of nausea or vomiting, throbbing headache, rapid, weak or strong pulse and possible loss of consciousness.

    Onset of heat stroke can be rapid; serious symptoms can occur within minutes. Treatment involves the rapid lowering of body temperature using a cool bath or wet towels. Keep victims of heat stroke in a cool area and immediately call 911.

    Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat stroke that may develop from a person being exposed to several days of high temperatures and from being dehydrated.

    Signs of heat exhaustion include dizziness or fainting; muscle cramps; nausea or vomiting; cold, pale, clammy skin; a rapid, weak pulse; and heavy sweating. Heat exhaustion is treated by drinking plenty of liquids, taking a cool bath or applying wet towels, and resting in a cool, shaded area. Those on a low-sodium diet or with other health issues, such as chronic medical conditions, should discuss their risk with their healthcare provider.

    In 2015, there were 6 confirmed heat-related deaths from May through September in Maryland, down from 46 confirmed heat-related deaths during the same period in 2012.  Three heat-related deaths have been confirmed to date for 2016 (monitoring began in June).

    Hot weather tips:

    • Drink plenty of fluids, such as water and fruit juice, to prevent dehydration. Alcohol can impair the body’s sweat mechanism, as can some common medications, such as antihistamines and diuretics.   
    • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothes.
    • Avoid direct sunlight by staying in the shade and wear sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
    • Stay in air-conditioned areas when possible. If your home is not air-conditioned, consider a visit to a shopping mall or public library or stay with family or friends who have air conditioning. Contact your local health department to see if there are cooling shelters open in your area.
    • Never leave pets or children in a car, even with the windows cracked.
    • Check on elderly relatives or neighbors at least daily, and make sure they have a cool environment to live in during extreme heat.
    • Take it easy when outdoors. Athletes and those who work outdoors should take short breaks when feeling fatigued. Schedule physical activity during the morning or evening when it is cooler.


    Weekly Heat Reports

    From June through the beginning of September, DHMH monitors temperature conditions and advisories issued by the National Weather Service and alerts residents of Extreme Heat Events.


    Since June 5, 2013, reports have been issued weekly to provide guidance and information about deaths and illness caused by extreme heat in the region. During extended Extreme Heat Events, reports will be issued daily. To see the reports, visit http://goo.gl/kvm4MR. The site also includes the State Heat Plan and facts about heat-related illnesses.

    Marylanders in need of a cooling center should contact their local health department or visit the DHMH Heat Emergency website at: http://goo.gl/SfSCtM. Maryland residents in need of energy assistance to keep cool this summer should call 2-1-1 Maryland to see if there are resources available to help.

    Additional Resources:




    Marylanders who need help finding substance abuse treatment resources should visit http://goo.gl/nIfGm0 or call the Maryland Crisis Hotline, which provides 24/7 support, at 1-800-422-0009. For information on many of the policies currently implemented to fight addiction and overdose in Maryland, see http://goo.gl/KvEzQw. If you know of someone in need of treatment for a substance use disorder, treatment facilities can be located by location and program characteristics on our page at http://goo.gl/rbGF6S


    The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is the state government agency that protects Maryland’s public health and also works to help Marylanders make better health decisions for better health outcomes. Stay connected: www.twitter.com/MarylandDHMH and www.facebook.com/MarylandDHMH