DHMH Announces First Heat Death of the Season

Precautions urged as high temperatures expected to continue this week

BALTIMORE, MD (July 3, 2013) – The first heat-related death of the 2013 season has occurred in Howard County, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) announced. An adult male between the ages of 45 and 64 who had underlying health conditions died of heat-related complications.

DHMH cautions Marylanders that heatstroke and heat exhaustion can develop from the hot and humid conditions typically associated with Maryland summers.

“As we celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, Marylanders should remember that extreme heat can be dangerous, and even deadly,” said DHMH Deputy Secretary Dr. Laura Herrera. “With high temperatures expected throughout the weekend, people need to take steps to stay cool.”

For tips and reports on heat, visit http://dhmh.maryland.gov/extremeheat/SitePages/Home.aspx.  

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 aseriously 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 mayalso vomit or faint.  Heat exhaustion is treated with plenty of liquids and rest in a cool, shaded area. Those on a low-sodium diet orwith other health problems should contact a doctor

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.

In 2012, there were 46 confirmed heat-related deaths from May through September in Maryland. In 2011, there were 34 confirmed heat-related deaths, in 2010, there were 32; in 2009, six heat related deaths; and in 2008, there were 17 deaths.

Additional Resources:

Maryland Emergency Management Agency:

www.mema.state.md.us/prepared/Pages/heatdrought.aspx

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/

www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress/

Spanish Language Resources:

www.cdc.gov/nceh/extremeheat/index_esp.html

www.epa.gov/aging/resources/factsheets/itdhpfehe/itdhpfehe_spanish_100-F-08-076.pdf

www.epa.gov/aging/resources/posters/beat-the-heat_poster_spanish_100-H-07-002.pdf

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