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Health officials warn public about coming heat

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As Memorial Day approaches and the temperatures rise, some state health officials are reminding residents to take care of themselves and their children and neighbors.

The state is activating its heat emergency website, dhmh.maryland.gov/extremeheat, which has information about preventing death and illness. Heat advisories will be issued when it feels like it’s at least 105 degrees after heat and humidity are factored.

Health officials say at this heat level heat stroke and exhaustion are common. Heat Stroke is when the body temperature exceeds 105 degrees and makes the skin feel dry. It also causes disorientation and convulsion. The officials recommend moving the victim to a cool area and calling 911.

For heat exhaustion, a milder form of stroke, is usually caused by days of high heat and dehydration. Symptoms include weakness, cramps, nausea and headache. Treat with liquids and rest in a cool place.

“When the weather is extremely hot, seniors, young children and persons with heart disease and other health conditions must be protected,” said Frances Phillips, the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s deputy secretary for public health services, in a statement. “The consequences of heat exposure can be very serious.”

The state reports that there were 34 confirmed heat related deaths between May and August last year.

General tips from the department include drinking plenty of fluids, but not alcohol, wearing loose and light colored clothing, avoiding direct sunlight or wearing hats and sunscreen, visiting air conditioned places or cooling shelters and not over-extending.

Officials also request people check on their elderly neighbors and family daily.

The Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, which coordinates emergency care in the state, also reminds residents not to leave children or pets in the car even with a cracked window.

Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle fatalities for children 14 and under, federal traffic safety officials say.

“More than half of all vehicle-related heatstroke deaths in children are caused by a child unintentionally being left in the car, and more than 30 percent are from a child getting into a hot car on their own,” said Dr. Robert R. Bass, the system’s executive director.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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