Triple digit temperatures can be dangerous to a person’s health if the proper precautions aren’t taken to remain hydrated.
“Nobody is accustomed to this type of temperature. We may think that because we live in Texas that we are tough and we can handle the heat. When it gets hot like this it is past what a normal human being needs to be out in, doing any type of manual labor,” Waxahachie Fire Chief David Hudgins said.
Monday marked the 31st consecutive day with temperatures above 100 degrees.
“Everybody has different tolerance levels but this is when you call it dangerous. You are talking about somebody passing out on you and it is not just a matter of putting a cold rag on their head and when they come to give them a little water. This is very serious. We highly recommend people limit being out in this
weather. Drink plenty of water and get out of this heat.”
Hudgins said even though people might not feel bad they need to cool themselves down because one’s body temperature can go up and may keep going up.
The types of heat related illnesses are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of the water and salt, usually through excessive sweating. People who are the most prone to heat exhaustion are those who are elderly, have high blood pressure and or working in a hot environment. 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.
The CDC cites heat stroke as the most serious heat-related disorder. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: The body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails and the body is unable to cool down. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given. Symptoms include hot dry skin (no sweating), hallucinations, chills, throbbing headache, high body temperature, confusion, dizziness and slurred speech.
To treat a person with heat stroke, immediately call 9-1-1, move the person to a cool shaded area, use wet towels to cool the person and fan his or her body. If a person starts to exhibits the signs connected with heat exhaustion or heat stroke it is important to get them out of the sun into a shaded area. If possible get the person into an air-conditioned building.
“The first thing to do is to immediately remove that person from the heat and find somewhere to cool down to sit down. If you start to have cramps and you are really lethargic and sweaty you are experiencing heat exhaustion. You need to cool off. In the event that you are that hot and you are not sweating you are getting into the danger zone for heat stroke and by then you start to lose consciousness,” pump engineer and paramedic Robby Muetzenburg said.
“At that point you are going to have to have other people’s help placing ice packs in and around the groin and under the arm pits. The best thing for them to do is to recognize it early and take steps before they get that far such as remaining hydrated continually. People don’t realize that it takes a long time for their body to adjust to heat,” he said.
Along with water it is important to drink sports drinks that are designed to replenish lost fluids such as carbohydrates and electrolytes and avoid caffeine and alcoholic drinks, Muetzenburg said, recommending combining water and a sports drink into a 50/50 mix to provide for better hydration. It’s also important to wear appropriate clothing that will breath and apply sunscreen on skin that is exposed to the sun, he said.
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