There will be major heat risks in Baltimore and around the state next week, according to the National Weather Service. Highs in Baltimore could reach 96 degrees.

The forecast, from the NWS HeatRisk map, shows parts of Baltimore, Baltimore County, Frederick County, Howard County and the Washington, D.C., area under a “major” heat risk for Tuesday, June 18. A slightly smaller area is under a major risk on Wednesday.

Most of the state is under a “moderate” heat risk on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The risk level is evaluated based on multiple factors, including how unusual the heat is for the time of year and the duration of the heat. The heat could be dangerous if people don’t take precautions, said Jeremy Geiger, a meteorologist at the Baltimore-Washington Office of the NWS.

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The high temperatures next week are “unusual, but not unheard of” for this time of year, Geiger said. Typically, the average high temperature in the region this time of year would be closer to 85 degrees.

A weather pattern is moving warm, moist air up from the South into the region, “funneling” it into our area, Geiger said. That, combined with clear skies, is what’s going to raise the temperature, he said.

Blair Adams, a spokesperson for the Baltimore City Health Department, said the department would start public messaging today to share information about what precautions to take in high heat situations.

If the city health commissioner, Dr. Ihuoma Emenuga, declares a code red extreme heat alert, the city opens public facilities as cooling centers. Similar plans would be in place around the state.

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Staying safe

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started a heat-related initiative this year in response to increased health risks tied to extreme heat.

More than two-thirds of all Americans were under some sort of heat alert at one point or another in 2023, according to the CDC. The initiative included launching the HeatRisk map, and creating a new, public-facing HeatRisk dashboard.

Older adults, young children and people with chronic health conditions and mental illness are considered at the highest risk for heat-related illnesses, according to the CDC. However, the organization is careful to say that high heat is a risk for everyone, especially if a person is participating in strenuous physical activity.

Illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke happen when the body is unable to cool itself.

“Our bodies are designed to work within a relatively narrow temperature range, around 98 degrees or so,” said Dr. Cliff Mitchell, director of the Environmental Health Bureau at the Maryland Department of Health.

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Outside that range — either colder or hotter — and the basic chemistry of life starts to break down, he said, create a “cascade” of bad effects.

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“As the body’s temperature increases, you see impacts on the central nervous system, the cardiac system — all of those are adversely effected,” he said.

Keeping yourself safe from extreme heat isn’t rocket science, Mitchell said. It’s “all about prevention. It is 100% about prevention.”

Stay hydrated, wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, take breaks and get inside or under shade when possible, Mitchell said.

“And never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever leave a child or a pet in a vehicle for any length of time. It doesn’t take long for that vehicle to heat up,” he said.

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The CDC says about 1,220 people die from extreme heat in the United States every year. Maryland recorded nine heat-related deaths in 2023, according to the Maryland Department of Health.

A 59-year-old Prince George’s County man was recorded as Maryland’s first heat-related death of 2024 earlier this month.

This story has been updated to correct the name of the Baltimore Health Commissioner.