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Extreme Heat: Emergency Rooms Report Increase in Patients

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The extreme heat system scorching the nation was on the move eastward toward major cities Thursday as it impacts airports, tourist spots and emergency rooms.

At New York's Statue of Liberty, officials closed the statue's crown area as temperatures inside reached 110 degrees Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, emergency rooms say they are "stacked up" with patients due to the heat that has scorched the Southwest and Midwest.

"We're up in overall cases by 10 percent every day this week," the Detroit Medical Center reported to ABC News Thursday. "The chief of emergency medicine estimated that 15 percent to 20 percent are heat exhaustion or heat-related cases."

The center said that one man with diabetes was found unconscious on the floor of his non-air-conditioned home. "He's still not out of the woods," the center said.

There are 141 million people in more than two dozen states under heat advisories.

As many as 22 people have died because of the extreme heat and humidity, the National Weather Service reported Wednesday -- and there is no immediate end to the scorching temperatures in sight.

Heat indexes from 105 to 115 degrees were expected from the Midwest to the East Coast Thursday.

Across the Midwest, people were being treated in hospitals for illnesses related to the heat. In Wichita, Kan., hospitals saw 25 heat-related illnesses, while in Des Moines, Iowa, they saw 16.

According to hospital officials, a person can die within half an hour once they get heat exhaustion. Officials warned people to watch for signs of heat exhaustion. In these conditions, the body, even at rest, can lose a quart of fluid an hour.

The National Weather Service has safety tips for adults looking to keep cool:

-- Slow down. Try to reduce or cancel any strenuous activities, or reschedule them for the coolest part of the day.

-- Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect sunlight and heat.

-- Eat lighter foods. Meat and other proteins increase metabolic heat production and could cause even more water loss.

-- Drink plenty of water, but avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks.

-- Spend more time in air-conditioned places. If you don't have an air-conditioner in your home, go to a library, store or other location for part of the day to stay cool.

-- Avoid getting too much sun. Sunburn can reduce your body's ability to release heat.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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