Heat-related emergencies can be prevented

Stay hydrated, take breaks, limit outdoor activities

SAN ANTONIO – According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 600 people a year die of extreme heat.

The elderly, infants, people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at highest risk for heat-related emergencies.

Dr. Joe Pendon, medical director of Emergency Medicine at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital, said signs of heat exhaustion including headaches, muscle cramps and weakness.

"You are getting cramps in your muscles because you're exerting yourself. We think it's because your electrolytes are off."

Pendon said stay hydrated and take breaks if you're going to be outside for a long period of time.

He said water should always be the first choice for hydration. Pendon has a word of caution regarding sports drinks.

"When you're drinking the sports drinks, you also need to be aware of the other ingredients that could be in the sports drinks. Things like sugar, caffeine, calories. We need to be aware and reading labels to be aware of what's in your sports drink," he said.

The CDC offers the following tips to prevent a heat-related emergency:

  • Use sunscreen
  • Wear loose, light-colored clothing and a hat with a wide brim.
  • Limit outdoor activities from noon to 4 p.m., generally considered the hottest part of the day.
  • If you are exercising in the heat, don't allow your heart to race.

If you suspect someone may have heat stroke, call 911 and get the victim to shade or air conditioning.

Also, attempt to cool the victim down with a sponge or towel doused in cool water (no ice), and fan them.


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