Just ahead of the July 4th weekend — when temperatures could rise close to 100 degrees — the state reported another heat related-death.
This is the sixth for the state this season, and the same number that died of heat in all of 2009. This is also the first that does not involve a senior, though the victim was an adult. The person, who was only identified as a Montgomery County resident, was found outside and was the first with no serious underlying health conditions.
The death has state officials warning residents to take precautions.
"It's hotter than normal," said John M. Colmers, secretary of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. "This is serious business for people, particularly those with chronic conditions and the elderly. We've seen it lead to fatal consequences."
He said the latest death serves as a warning that anyone can become dehydrated and fall ill. That means residents need to drink plenty of fluids, seek shade and air conditioning, take it easy when outside and check on their pets and neighbors.
In general, the heat is the biggest threat to those with chronic illnesses and the elderly. All of the other victims in the state were seniors who were found inside without air conditioning, except for one senior who was found outside. None were homeless.
This June has been the second warmest on record, according to Matthew Kramar, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. The average monthly temperature was 78.8 degrees, with 16 days at 90 degrees or higher. The average is under 6 days.
The weekend won't provide any relief. Saturday, the high temperature is expected to be in the upper 80s, which is normal. But Sunday it's expected to be in the upper 90s. And temperatures Monday will be pushing 100. It will be dry.
For the rest of the summer, the Climate Prediction Center forecasts more high temperatures. For July, August and September, the temperatures are expected to continue to be above normal.
The state is working with the city and counties, some of which have opened cooling stations. Residents in Baltimore, for example, can find cooling stations by calling 311 on Code Red heat days or logging onto the city health department website. The stations offer cool air and water and ice.
Within the health department, the city's Commission on Aging also operates cooling stations during the week and hands out brochures with tips for seniors. Officials there have been working with contractors and others in the community to identify seniors who may need attention. Some senior centers are also loaning fans.
The extreme heat could lead to more health problems. State officials say to be on the lookout for heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heatstroke than can develop because of the heat and dehydration. Symptoms include extreme weakness, muscle cramps, nausea or headache and vomiting. Those with signs of exhaustion should drink lots of fluids and rest in a cool area.
Heatstroke occurs when the body reaches 105 degrees or higher. Symptoms include dry red skin, convulsions, disorientation, delirium and coma. It can take only minutes for someone to become seriously ill. A victim should be placed in a cool bath or under cool towels and emergency care should be sought.
Heat-related deaths and +90 degree days measured at BWI airport
2010: 6 deaths and 21 days (so far this year)
2009: 6 deaths and 13 days
2008: 17 deaths and 27 days
2007: 21 deaths and 45 days
2006: 43 deaths and 39 days
2005: 48 deaths and 29 days
2004: 5 deaths and 11 days
2003: 1 death and 14 days
2002: 1 death and 48 days
Source: State's chief medical examiner and the National Weather Service