As July comes to a close, temperatures continue to climb, reaching into the triple digits and posing health hazards to area residents.

Area emergency responders are reminding residents it is important to remember if youíre working or enjoying an afternoon with friends and family to take steps to remain cool.

Waxahachie Fire Department Pump Engineer and Paramedic Billy Vest said the key to remaining cool in this hot weather is to remain properly hydrated.

Vest advises that before doing a physically demanding activity to hydrate the day before with a 50/50 mix of water and Gatorade. This helps to prepare the body for the future activity.

According to the University of Portland Health Center hydration is critical to a personís performance. Performance can suffer with only 1-2 percent of loss of body fluids. Drinking water frequently is the best way to stay hydrated.

Vest added that it is also very dangerous if your body stops sweating. Sweating is the way the body cools itself. If the body stops sweating its temperature could rise to dangerous levels.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat exhaustion is the bodyís response to an excessive loss of water and salt, usually through excessive sweating. Symptoms include heavy sweating, extreme weakness or fatigue, dizziness, confusion, nausea, clammy moist skin, pale or flushed complexion, muscle cramps, slightly elevated body temperature and fast and shallow breathing.

To treat heat exhaustion it is advised that the person needs to get out of the heat. Drink water and a little bit of Gatorade to replace electrolytes and nutrients such as potassium and sodium.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related disorder. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the bodyís temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails and the body is unable to cool down.

A person affected by heat stroke can exhibit symptoms of dry skin, a reddish completion, an altered mental state, muscle cramps, weakness, headaches, dizziness, disorientation and even vomiting.

The CDC recommends treating heat stroke by first moving the affected person into a cool shaded area. Then cool them off by soaking their clothes with water, fanning their body and spraying or sponging them with water.

Vest said cool towels could be placed in the armpits and in the groin area, which helps to cool down the core area of the body. Get the affected person into a cool area and avoid placing them next to a fan. By placing a person in front of a fan it will cause the body to create chill bumps, which create heat. These bumps form on the skin involuntarily when the body becomes cold.

Drink liquids all day long with water as the best liquid to drink. Avoid caffeinated drinks, such as soda, coffee, tea, energy drinks and alcohol. Eat small balanced meals. Also wear a hat, light-colored and loose fitting clothes and use sunscreen.

Take many breaks in cool and shady places and avoid direct sun.

With both heat stroke and exhaustion it is important to call 9-1-1 for assistance and get checked out at the hospital.

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