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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore bakes amid the first heat wave of the season. The heat index climbed to 100 degrees Wednesday, and people struggled to keep cool.

Mike Hellgren has more on the toll this heat is taking.

The sun rose over the Inner Harbor to start the hottest day of the year so far. A haze quickly settled over the Baltimore skyline, as people across Maryland struggled to stay cool any way they could.

“It’s so hot that you could hardly breathe. My little one has asthma. I didn’t let her go outside because of the humidity,” said Annie Holland.

The danger from these temperatures is real. Last year, 17 people died from heat-related illnesses.

The state health department is tracking ER visits for hyperthermia, heat, dehydration and sunburn and has already seen 167 complaints from May 27 to June 2 and 180 complaints from June 3 through June 9.

“We know that the vulnerable populations for most extreme weather are the very old and the very young,” said Dr. Maura Rossman, Howard County Health Officer.

“He likes to run around half-naked, but still look cool in his little hat,”said Devi Weinkle. “I’m from Florida and it feels just like Florida humidity. Step out and you’re just drenched.”

“I just drink a lot of water and just try to stay in the shade,” said Daryl Hubbard.

Hydration is important, especially for those who work outside.

“I know it’s hot, but I have to work,” said landscaper Latif Bougedai.

A visit to the pool is a welcome one on a day this sweltering.

“I’m wearing long pants, so it’s getting really hot out here,” said Trinity Mumuni.

The highest number of ER visits in the state typically happens in July.

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