As temperatures across Maryland and the Baltimore region felt like 100 degrees Monday, the state health department reported the first heat-related death of the year.
The Maryland Department of Health said a man in his 30s died in Baltimore City due to the heat. The department did not disclose the man’s name.
“As this tragedy shows, heat-related illnesses, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can result in serious ailments and even death,” health department Secretary Robert R. Neall said in a news release. “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.”
The high temperature at BWI Marshall Airport on Monday was 96 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa announced Sunday that with the heat index expected to surpass 100 Monday and Tuesday, the city has issued a Code Red Extreme Health Alert for those days. The heat index measures air temperature and relative humidity and indicates how hot it feels to the human body.
Sunday’s high at the airport was 95 degrees between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.
National Weather Service meteorologist Brandon Fling said Sunday that this month has been “abnormally hot and humid.”
As of July 25, this year has edged out 2010 for the highest average temperature for the month at 82.3 degrees, according to the weather service. Fling said the average combines both high and low temperatures.
Tuesday will also have warm temperatures, with a high of 95 but a heat index of 104, the weather service said. With the looming cold front, there will be more humidity and clouds, Fling said, as well as a 50% chance of showers in the afternoon.
“If people plan on being outdoors, take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water and be sure to stay in the shade,” Fling said.
After Tuesday, temperatures are expected to “drop back down near to seasonal levels,” Fling said, in the low 90s as a cold front swings through the area, bringing less humidity.
Wednesday is forecast to have a high of 93 and low of 72 degrees and Thursday a high of 95, with a 20% chance of showers, and a low of 73 degrees. On Friday, temperatures are forecast to dip to the upper 80s, with a high of 87 and low of 70.
The city health commissioner can declare a Code Red Extreme Heat Alert during periods of heat that are severe enough to present a substantial threat to the life or health of vulnerable Baltimore residents. Once a Code Red Extreme Heat declaration is made, public messaging activities are undertaken to encourage safety.
“Excessive heat is the leading weather-related killer in the United States,” Dzirasa said in a news release. “The effects of extreme heat are exacerbated in urban areas, especially when combined with high humidity and poor air quality. Extreme heat is particularly dangerous for young children, older adults, and those with chronic medical conditions. I encourage all residents to take the necessary steps to protect themselves as well as their families, neighbors, and pets.”
The Health Department’s Division of Aging will open several locations as cooling centers from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.