ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Temperatures are getting warmer, and the heat may pose a risk to your health.
Heat-related illnesses — such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke — are the number one cause of weather-related fatalities in the United States.
Anyone can suffer from a heat-related illness. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, those at greatest risk include young children, people 65 years of age and older, people who are overweight, people who are ill or on certain medications, and outdoor workers.
Eric Conrad, the lead mower at Extreme Design Landscaping, usually works ten-hour days. Even in the heat, he finds ways to stay cool. He drinks plenty of water, wears sunscreen, and will use other methods to stay cool.
“Usually, I use the perpetual motion of the mower to create a breeze,” he laughed.
He also tries to get jobs done earlier in the day, if possible.
“Sometimes we’ll start earlier in the summertime to beat the heat and get off a little earlier,” Conrad said. “Generally the peak of heat is about 3 p.m., so we try to start wrapping up around 3 p.m. or 4 p.m.”
Staying cool in the summer heat is crucial for outdoor workers. Anyone who plans on spending prolong periods of time outside should try to find ways to prevent heat-related illnesses.
Arwen Quinn, the Trauma Community Outreach Coordinator for Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, says a few simple steps can help you stay safe.
“You need to make sure you are prepared for the sun: have protective eyewear, have sunscreen, drink lots of water, a hat, and be prepared to find shade if you’re out in the sun,” she said.
Heat-related illnesses can become dangerous if left untreated. The most serious heat-related illness — heat stroke — occurs when the body temperature reaches 104°F or higher and the body is unable to cool down due to a lack of sweat.
“When you stop sweating, this is when things are getting very dangerous,” Quinn said.
If someone is suffering from heat stroke, Quinn says to call 911 and work to cool down their body temperature.
“If you see somebody that you suspect maybe suffering from heat stroke, the best thing you can do is to cool them down, get them into a shady spot, hose them off with cool water if you have that available, or put ice packs in their armpits or their groin area to help them cool off as quickly as possible. But drinking water too quickly can be dangerous for a heat stroke. For heat exhaustion and heat cramps, drinking water is always always safe.”
If you’re playing in the sun, Quinn says you’ll want to watch what you drink.
“Drinking alcohol can cause you to become more dehydrated, so be careful,” she said. “If you’re out in the sun, make sure that you have water or Gatorade and stay hydrated.”
Listen to your body during the hot weather and know how to properly treat it in the case of a heat-related illness.
“If you feel something abnormal, then generally you should probably pay attention that,” Conrad said. “Otherwise, you could suffer heat stroke and what not and end up passing out in the sun.”
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