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Carroll County Times Opinion

Our View: It’s nice to get outside, but stay safe in the heat | COMMENTARY

We spent most of the spring cooped up inside, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. For most, It’s been a welcome return to normalcy to be able to spend more time outside recently, whether in parks or exercising or playing sports. But it is summer in Maryland, so we urge everyone to do so safely and in moderation.

When the high temperatures barely rose into the 90s on Tuesday and Wednesday in Carroll County, it was a bit of a reprieve from the mid-to-high-90s days that felt like triple-digits for what has seemed like most of July. As of July 25, this year has edged out 2010 for the highest average temperature for the month, according to the weather service. The forecast calls for a high of 94 on July 30.

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The regional heat went from oppressive and inconvenient to tragic earlier this week. According to a Wednesday news release from the Maryland Department of Health, the first reported heat-related death of 2020 in Maryland was a male in his 30s in Baltimore City. “As this tragedy shows, heat-related illnesses, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can result in serious ailments and even death,” said MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall. “Especially as we’re seeing higher heat indexes across the state, Marylanders are urged to take precautions to avoid overheating and to know the signs at the onset of any heat-related illness so they can seek medical attention, if necessary.”

Indeed, summertime heat can be a serious health hazard, especially for our youngest and oldest residents. Illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke shouldn’t be taken lightly. Keep in mind that even if the temperature itself isn’t particular high, the relative humidity can make it feel like it’s much hotter. For example, an 85-degree day with 90 percent humidity can make it feel like it’s more than 101 degrees outside. High humidity reduces your body’s ability to get rid of excess heat through sweating.

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Symptoms of heat exhaustion include sweating profusely and suffering from dizziness, headaches, nausea, muscle cramps or a rapid heartbeat after being outside in the heat. If you begin to experience any of these symptoms, get to a cooler location — preferably someplace indoors with air conditioning — drink water and apply cool, wet clothes to your body. If you continue to feel nauseous or vomit, you may be suffering from heat stroke and should call 911 to see a doctor right away.

The Carroll County Health Department website offers tips for staying safe in the heat that we believe are worth sharing each summer.

Wear lightweight and light-colored clothing and be sure to drink lots of water to stay hydrated if you have to be outside. If you work outdoors or you have kids playing outside in the sunshine during summer break, don’t forget to take breaks in the shade or indoors when you can.

Drink water instead of sugary beverages like soda, juice or beer. The sugars contribute to dehydration and may lead to a bout of heat exhaustion.

Children, seniors, people with heart and lung conditions, and those suffering from asthma are the most at-risk of serious consequences related to the heat. If you know someone who fits those categories, especially someone who may live by themselves or be home alone, check in regularly during particularly hot stretches.

Finally, don’t forget about children or pets or the elderly in cars. Vehicles can heat up incredibly quickly in the sun. About 37 children die locked inside hot cars in the U.S. annually, according to kidsandcars.org.

The Carroll County Department of Citizen Services and the Human Services Programs of Carroll County (HSP) operated a cooling center at the Homeless Shelter at 127 Stoner Ave., in Westminster last week. Previously this summer, the Westminster Senior and Community Center had been opened for cooling. A health department spokesperson said both cooling centers used by local residents and encouraged everyone to go online to cchd.maryland.gov/stay-safe-in-the-heat to find out the status of cooling centers for the rest of the summer.


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