BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland has reported its first heat-related death of 2020, the state’s health department said Monday.
Officials said the victim was a man in his 30s. He died in Baltimore.
While the health department did not say when the man died, its latest report showed no heat-related deaths through July 20.
More heat is in the forecast, leading doctors to remind people to protect themselves. Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letita Dzirasa issued a code red extreme heat alert for the city for Monday and Tuesday, opening cooling centers for those who need them.
Emergency room doctor Geoffrey Froelich at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore said the two things people can do to keep themselves safe are getting out of the heat when possible and staying hydrated.
Everyone is at risk when temperatures climb, he said, though the heat is particularly dangerous for some groups.
“The reality is that the complications that come along with the heat don’t only affect the elderly, the infirm, or people with preexisting conditions,” he said.
Initial warning signs of heat-related illness include muscle cramps, swelling, fatigue and dizziness. A more extreme symptom would be a change to a person’s mental status.
More severe cases arise when the body loses the ability to regulate its internal temperature. Heat strokes are also possible.
Despite the heat, some Baltimore residents like landscaper Joshua Mcnair need to brave the elements to get their work done.
The coronavirus pandemic adds an extra layer of concern, he said.
“Not only do we have to worry about the pandemic but we now have to worry about this massive heatwave, as well, so it’s like a doubt threat right there,” he said.
While Mcnair spends five hours outside at a time, he said he makes sure to take breaks every so often to make sure he doesn’t overheat.
Baltimore resident Tom Crusse said the heat caused him to move his Monday walk to the morning to avoid the hottest part of the day.
“I think that everybody just needs to know their body and listen to it when it says I’m too hot, I’m dizzy, I’m sweating too much,” he said.
Pieter Hidayat said he plans to stay home when the heat becomes too much.
Even though people are still urged to practice social distancing, Froelich said people should check on anyone who may be at risk, especially those who could lose air conditioning in their homes and those who don’t interact with people regularly.
Last year, 20 Marylanders died due to the heat, the health department reports.