Stay Safe in Summer Heat

As temperatures climb, watch for signs of heat emergencies

girl sweating in sun

Can you feel the heat? It’s a scorcher. Ninety-degree weather is forecasted for several parts of the country.

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Tom Waters, MD, is an emergency room doctor at Cleveland Clinic’s Emergency Department. He says today’s conditions are just right for a heat emergency.

High temperatures paired with humidity can cause problems because these conditions make it harder for your body to dissipate heat to cool you down, Dr. Waters says.

“This is because our main mechanism to get rid of heat is through sweating, and when it’s very hot and humid, we’re not very efficient at getting rid of heat. Both of those two conditions can predispose a person to a heat emergency,” Dr. Waters says.

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Warning signs of a heat emergency can include:

  • A general sick feeling
  • Nausea
  • Listlessness
  • Headache
  • Confusion

If extreme, a heat emergency could cause someone to fall into a coma.

“If you notice that yourself or a loved one is experiencing any of these signs, remove yourself from the heat and start hydrating. If you noticed a love done has started to act confused, that’s a true heat emergency and you need to get them to a hospital right away,” Dr. Waters says.

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Dr. Waters recommends frequent breaks if you’re outside for long periods of time and drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. He says you don’t want to lose too much sodium through sweat so alternating between water and electrolyte drinks is best.

“You want to make sure you’re drinking water or electrolyte solutions. You want to avoid things that contain caffeine such as soda pop or coffee and things that will make you more dehydrated. Alcohol is a ‘no-no’ because it’s going to make you more dehydrated,” Dr. Waters says.

Remember that young children and the elderly are more susceptible to high heat, so make sure you monitor them closely, make them take breaks and keep them well-hydrated. This summer, as temperatures climb, enjoy the sunshine, but stay safe.

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