BALTIMORE- Maryland health officials say the recent heat wave has contributed to the first three heat-related deaths in the state this year.
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced Monday that one Montgomery County man (between the ages of 18 and 65), one Wicomico County man over 65-years-old, and one Baltimore man over 65-years-old, have died during this current heat wave. High temperatures are expected to continue this week.
DHMH Deputy Secretary Frances Phillips said the department cautions Maryland citizens that heatstroke and heat exhaustion can develop from the hot and humid conditions typically associated with the state's summers.
"Extreme heat can be deadly and everyone should know the warning signs of danger," Phillips said. "With the extreme heat and the lack of power throughout many areas of the state, people need to take advantage of cooling centers."
Marylanders in need of a cooling center or assistance can contact their local health department for information by phone or the Internet or go to the DHMH Cooling Center link at www.dhmh.maryland.gov. For tips and reports on heat, click here.
Heatstroke is a serious illness characterized by a body temperature greater then 105 degrees. Symptoms may include dry red skin, convulsions, disorientation, delirium and coma. Onset of heatstroke can be rapid: a person can go from feeling apparently well to a seriously ill condition within minutes. Treatment of heatstroke involves the rapid lowering of body temperature, using a cool bath or wet towels. A heatstroke victim should be kept in a cool area; emergency medical care should be obtained by dialing 911.
Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heatstroke that may develop due to a combination of several days with high temperatures and dehydration in an individual. Signs of heat exhaustion include extreme weakness, muscle cramps, nausea, or headache. Victims may also vomit or faint. Heat exhaustion is treated with plenty of liquids and rest in a cool, shaded area. Those on a low-sodium diet or with other health problems should contact a doctor.
The DHMH is offering the following hot weather tips:
Drink plenty of fluids such as water and fruit juices to prevent dehydration -- be aware that alcohol can impair the body's sweat mechanism, as can fairly common medications such as antihistamines and diuretics;
Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes;
Avoid direct sunlight by staying in the shade or by wearing sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses;When possible, stay in air-conditioned areas. If your home is not air-conditioned, consider a visit to a shopping mall or public library. Contact your local health department to see if there are cooling shelters open in your area;
NEVER leave pets or young children in a car, even with the windows cracked;
Check on elderly relatives or neighbors at least daily; andTake 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.
The DHMH said that in 2011, there were 34 confirmed heat-related deaths in Maryland; in 2010, there were 32; in 2009, six heat-related deaths; in 2008, 17; and in 2007, 21.
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