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Cousins Devin Jackson, 5, and Ravyn Carpenter, 7, played Saturday afternoon in the fountains at the Inner Harbor trying to stay cool. (Video by Andrea K. McDaniels)

Markus Addison had to adjust his strategy a bit while competing in a tennis tournament at Druid Hill Park in Saturday's oppressive heat.

He couldn't swing as hard, or he would get worn out too fast. So he tried to tire his opponent out with strategic hits, making them run around more.

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The strategy didn't work. Addison was pooped, hot and sweaty at the end of the match.

"It was crazy hot out there," the 26-year-old said. "With every move you're drenched with sweat and the heat just takes your breath away."

Temperatures at the Inner Harbor hit 97 degrees, 103 with humidity and wind, by 3:30 p.m. Saturday as the most intense heat wave in years hit the state.

With temperatures expected to stay in the 90s through the week, it could be the longest stretch of such heat in at least three years. In recent years, a span of more than three or four consecutive days of 90-degree heat has been rare in Baltimore.

What could be the region's longest heat wave in years is forecast to broil the region through the weekend, possibly peaking Monday with Baltimore's first triple-digit temperatures since 2012.

The forecast brought warnings from health officials, who recommended people remain indoors, drink lots of water and check on elderly neighbors, who may be more prone to heat stroke.

"Stay out of the heat," said Dr. Howard Haft, deputy secretary of Public Health Services. "Heat emergencies are avoidable, and for the most part, preventable."

There have been three heat-related deaths since June, according to the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In 2015, there were six confirmed heat-related deaths from May through September.

Life, maybe a little sweatier, went on despite the temperature.

At Druid Hill Park, teenagers played in a basketball tournament and families had cookouts and picnics. Tourists traipsed through the Inner Harbor, and a construction crew worked to finish an apartment building for students near the Johns Hopkins University in Charles Village.

Everyone looked for their own way to stay cool. Some people carried umbrellas, and just about everyone toted a bottle of water. Some put damp towels on their head and huddled in the shade.

Ed Kookie, who brought a team of basketball players from Philadelphia to Druid Hill Park, said they forget the heat once they're on the court playing. Between games, they drink a lot of water and sit in the shade.

"We are full of water so nobody gets dehydrated," Kookie said. "These are kids. They can take it."

Nita Harris brought her two great-great-grandkids to escape the heat by playing in the fountains at the Inner Harbor. The 68-year-old said it's an inexpensive way for them to have fun and cool off.

Across the region emergency officials are preparing for the dangerous heat.

Devin Jackson, 5, and Ravyn Carpenter, 7, sprinted through the spurts of water giggling and calling each other names. Ravyn then asked her "nana" to spread a towel on the ground so the pair could lie down.

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"There's no sand out here," Harris, a housekeeper, said as she chuckled. "This is not the beach."

Nearby, Rhiana Scholz watched as her two kids also played in the fountain. Ardy, 2, and Livia, 6, couldn't seem to get enough of the water.

"When it's 90 degrees at 9:30 in the morning, you look for ways to stay cool," said Scholz, who said she doesn't mind the heat.

It is expected to be just as hot Sunday, said Kevin Witt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Baltimore-Washington forecast office. Monday's temperatures will depend on whether the area is hit by storms and gets cloud coverage.

In the meantime, health officials are telling people to look out for signs of heat illness. Heat stroke — when the body's temperature rises higher than 103 degrees — can happen very rapidly, Haft said. Symptoms may include confusion or altered mental state, a lack of sweat, nausea or vomiting and a throbbing headache. Call 911 if heat stroke is suspected.

Cousins Devin Jackson, 5, and Ravyn Carpenter, 7, played in the fountains at the Inner Harbor Saturday as the worst heat wave in years hit the area.
Cousins Devin Jackson, 5, and Ravyn Carpenter, 7, played in the fountains at the Inner Harbor Saturday as the worst heat wave in years hit the area. (Andrea McDaniels / Baltimore Sun)

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat stroke that may develop from a person being exposed to several days of high temperatures and from being dehydrated. Symptoms include dizziness or fainting, muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, cold, pale, clammy skin, a rapid, weak pulse, and heavy sweating.

It can be treated by drinking liquids, taking a cool bath or applying wet towels, and resting in a cool, shaded area.

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