Cumberland Times-News

Editorials

July 7, 2013

Keep your cool

Summertime heat ‘can be dangerous, and even deadly’

Just how hot is it? Hot enough to kill.

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported the state’s first heat-related death of the 2013 season Friday — a middle-aged Howard County resident with underlying health conditions.

Heatstroke and heat exhaustion can develop from the hot and humid conditions typically associated with Maryland summers, said the state agency.

 “... Marylanders should remember that extreme heat can be dangerous, and even deadly,” said DHMH Deputy Secretary Dr. Laura Herrera, whose office provided the following 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.

• 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.

For online tips and reports on heat, visit dhmh.maryland.gov/extremeheat/sitepages/home.aspx.

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