Heat is on: Dangers of heat exhaustion

By: Maddie Garrett Email
By: Maddie Garrett Email

SHERMAN, TX – Most Texomans are used to the hot summer weather, but many can forget about the dangers of the heat. And to make matters worse, the humidity not only makes it feel hotter than it actually is outside, but can also be hazardous to your health. Emergency personnel say you really should pay attention to the heat advisories and take preventative action.

"It starts with just maybe being a little mildly dehydrated, maybe a little mild confusion and then it can eventually become complete heat stroke,” said Dr. Sharon Malone, the EMS Medical Director for Grayson County.

Texoma did get a break from the scorching temperatures over the July 4th weekend, but Mike Reynolds with the Sherman Fire Department says be fooled.

"As hot as it is going to be in the next two months it's best to just avoid the middle of the day if you're going to be doing anything real strenuous,” said Reynolds.

And when the humidity is as high as it's been the past few days, it can be harder for your body to cool down.

"Evaporation by sweating is our number one ability in hot temperatures to get rid of internal heat. At 75% humidity you lose the ability to actually evaporate that fluid,” said Malone.

When you’re body does get overheated, there can be serious medical consequences. Dr. Malone breaks down what happens when your core temperature rises too high.

"The body loses its ability to control its temperature, you start breaking down proteins and breaking down cell walls and you can cause complete multi-organ failure and death,” said Malone.

Here are some of the signs that you’re experiencing a heat related illness:

• Rapid heart rate
• Stop sweating
• Muscle cramps
• Dizziness or confusion
• Irritability

If someone does become ill, don’t drench them in ice cold water, because that will be too much too late and only cause shock. Get them to a cooler place, use a fan and spray them with water.

"Before we get there get somebody in the shade, do whatever you can to get them cool, stop the situation from getting any worse before we get there,” said Reynolds.

Emergency workers say the elderly are especially at risk, because their bodies can't handle the heat. And some heart medicines, like beta blockers, can also cause you to become more easily dehydrated.

"When people hit a certain age they don’t take the heat as well. So if you have elderly people in your neighborhood that are alone or might not have air conditioning or might not have utilities you might want to check on them as well,” recommended Reynolds.

Here are few tips to stay cool in the summer:

• Drink plenty of water or fluids before going outside and getting too hot
• Sodas or alcohol will only dehydrate you
• Try to stay inside during the hottest part of the day, between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
• Drugs like methamphetamines, cocaine and ecstasy raise your body temperature to dangerous levels
• If you are suffering from heat exhaustion, place ice packs in armpits or groin area


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