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Published on June 29, 2011

Watch for Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Read Karrey Britt's full story on WellCommons. 

It’s going to be hot, hot, hot.

Kelsey Angle, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said temperatures are going to reach triple digits Thursday with a heat index of 105.

And the heat is sticking around. The NWS has issued an excessive heat watch for Douglas County from Thursday to Saturday.

“People should take appropriate precautions because the heat will build this week and last through the weekend,” Angle said.

Doctors and veterinarians warn that people need to take the heat very seriously because it can be fatal.

Dr. Charles Yockey, of Lawrence Memorial Hospital, said those most at-risk are the elderly, outdoor laborers and athletes.

He said the elderly don’t perspire as much as younger adults and because they aren’t perspiring they may not recognize how hot they are.

And younger adults may actually perspire so much that they become dehydrated.

Yockey’s tips for avoiding heat exhaustion:

  • Take precautionary measures: Drink plenty of water, avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, wear loose-fitting and light-colored clothing and limit outdoor activities to early morning or late evening if possible.
  • Know the warning signs: Urinating less frequently, light-headedness, dizziness, rapid heart beat, nausea and muscle cramps.
  • Treatment: Rehydrate with water or a sports drink, get rid of unnecessary clothes, use cool moist cloths to cool skin and use a fan. Don’t do any physical activity for the rest of the day.

Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke. That’s when the body is unable to regulate its temperature. The sweating mechanism fails, the body is unable to cool down, and temperature may rise to 106 degrees or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. If this happens, call 911 immediately.

“That’s basically where your brain thermostat goes berserk and nothing works right. It’s a true critical medical emergency with a very high mortality rate,” Yockey said.

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