State Alerts Residents to follow Safety Tips and Take Precautions to Avoid Heat-Related Illness Amid Excessive Heat

July 19, 2019

The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) is alerting residents of an excessive heat watch forecast through Sunday evening, July 21 for central Maryland and parts of eastern Maryland. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures are expected to reach the high 90s and may exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit in some places, with heat index values potentially 110 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit each afternoon.

“I urge all Marylanders to take precautions during this excessive heat,” said MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall. “Be mindful of the potential for heat-related illness and take precautions to stay hydrated. Do whatever you can to help keep yourself cool and if necessary, move to a cooling center.”

Excessive heat can lead to serious health issues. While anyone can be the victim of heat-related illness, the highest risk groups include people under age 5 or over age 65, people with chronic illnesses, people taking certain medications and those who are exercising or working outdoors.

Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are common health issues associated with excessive heat. Symptoms of heat cramps include:
• Muscle pain/spasms, caused by loss of water and salt from heavy sweating
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
• Dehydration
• Cool, moist, pale or flushed skin
• Extreme weakness
• Muscle cramps
• Nausea, headache and possible vomiting or fainting

Symptoms of heat stroke include:
• Body temperature of more than 105 degrees Fahrenheit
• Dry, red skin
• Rapid, weak pulse
• Rapid, shallow breathing
• Convulsions
• Disorientation
• Delirium
• Coma

MDH encourages residents to use the following tips to help cope with excessive heat if they must be outside:
• Drink plenty of fluids
• Avoid alcohol, caffeine and overly-sweetened beverages
• Wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing
• Avoid direct sunlight and wear sunscreen; stay in the shade when possible
• Avoid salt tablets, unless advised to take them by a doctor
• Schedule physical activity in the morning or evening when it’s cooler and take short breaks if necessary

Never leave children or pets in a car for any amount of time, even with the windows cracked. Residents also are encouraged to check on elderly neighbors or relatives to ensure they have a cool place to stay during excessive heat.

Residents in need of cooling centers are encouraged to reach out to their local health department or call 2-1-1 and provide their county location and ZIP code to get information about cooling center locations, hours of operation and available accommodations.