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Md. Heat Deaths Surpass Last Year’s Total

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Four new deaths in Maryland are linked to this summer’s oppressive heat. Excessive temperatures for days on end and power outages from the derecho packed a one-two punch. This summer is now the second deadliest on record.

Kai Jackson has more on the unusual conditions.

This new information underscores just how deadly the heat can be.

A scorching summer sun has taken its toll on Maryland residents. State health officials say the heat in 2012 has been deadly.

“Part of the problem with the heat in July was that it was one of the hottest months ever on record, tied for fifth hottest,” said Meteorologist Bernadette Woods.

So far this year, 38 people across the state have died due to the heat. Last year at this time, 34 people had died from heat illness. The highest number of heat deaths was 39 in 2006. Most of the victims were over 65.

Doctors like Alisa Gibson say they’ve seen proof of the hot weather in the emergency room.

“We’ve been getting a lot more people coming in with heat complaints, heat-related illnesses this summer than what I saw last summer,” she said.

The tipping point for heat-related problems apparently happened in between June 29 and July 8. That period followed the destructive derecho storm that knocked out power to a million Maryland residents. Some of the heat deaths involved victims who lost air conditioning due to that power outage.

Doctors say the bodies of young people tend to manage the heat fairly well. The problem really comes with those who are older and those with underlying medical conditions.

“I passed out. I stayed a week in the hospital,” said Violet Powell.

Doctors say underlying medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease can become worse because of the heat.

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