Entries in Heat (10)


Hot Car Hazard: Parent Forgetfulness Can Be Deadly

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- One hot summer day, Brandi Koskie strapped her 2-week old daughter Paisley into her rear-facing car seat and drove off to run some errands. As her daughter slept peacefully, Koskie parked, got out of the car, locked the door and walked away.

Fortunately she remembered within a minute that she had left her baby behind.

"I ran back, unbuckled her and held her. I was sobbing and shaking for probably 10 minutes afterwards," said Koskie, who is from Wichita, Kansas. "I kept thinking about how the worst might have happened."

Most parents think they could never make the mistake of leaving their baby in the car in sweltering heat. Yet according to the advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide, Koskie was right to be upset. The outcome can be tragic.

In the first week of August alone, according to another group, Kids and Cars, eight children across the United States died from heatstroke in hot vehicles; nearly 40 children die this way each year.

Heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, happens when the body's thermostat is overwhelmed with heat. Safe Kids USA says children are at the greatest risk because their bodies heat up 3 to 5 times more quickly than an adult’s.

What sort of parent could be so negligent? Although often portrayed as monsters in the media and sometimes even charged with manslaughter or child abuse, Jeff Brown, an assistant clinical professor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says they are often otherwise loving and attentive parents who feel hassled, distracted and confused.

"It can happen so easily if someone is overwhelmed and hyper-focused on what they have to do. When you're trying to multitask and do too many things, the brain goes on overload. The responsibility of caring for your child just slips from your mind," he says.

One San Francisco University report that recorded 424 heat related deaths of children in 12 years found that slightly more than half occurred because the parent simply forgot the child was in the car.

Jeanne Cosgrove, the Sunrise Children's Hospital coordinator for the Safe Kids Coalition in Las Vegas, adds that kids are also more likely to be left behind when there is a change in routine and the other parent has responsibility for the child. "They go about their normal day not realizing the baby is still in the back seat," she says.

Rear-facing car seats may also be a contributing factor in parent's forgetfulness. While experts agree that a rear-facing seat increases a child's safety during a collision, the website Parent Central says, "the last time experts pushed a new campaign to put more children in rear-facing seats - in the 1990s, to cut the chances of being killed by air bags - the number of children who died in hot cars spiked."

Brown says some tricks that can help spaced out parents: Leave your purse or briefcase in the back seat so you have to retrieve it before leaving the car, play children's music on the radio as a reminder that your bundle of joy is along for the ride, and set your phone alarm with reminders that it's your day to babysit.

In some cases, parents believe it's OK if they run a quick errand and hustle back to the car. They don't want the hassle of unbuckling a seat belt and wrestling with a squirming child. But they may not realize how quickly the inside of a car can become an oven. Cosgrove says a car can heat up at a rate of more than two degrees a minute. And opening the windows does little good because much of the heat radiates off seats and dashboards.

While being in a hurry is understandable, experts agree that it's no excuse for negligence.

Richard Gallagher, an associate professor at the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, NYU Langone Medical Center, says he believes the solutions for time-strapped parents are obvious -- either leave your children at home or get them out of the car and bring them with you, even if you only plan on being gone for a few minutes.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


High School Football Player Dies; Sixth Athlete Death This Summer

Thomas Northcut/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- It's a football record nobody wanted to set: For the sixth time this summer, a high school football player has collapsed and died after practicing in scorching heat.

Al Smith Jr., a 15-year-old sophomore, fell ill and then fainted Tuesday during his second day of practice with the junior varsity team at Eisenhower High School in Houston. He was rushed to the hospital and died two days later.

While Smith's cause of death has not yet been determined, his case bears striking similarities to the deaths of several other high school players this summer.

All six of the deaths have occurred in the heat-stricken South, and all of the players were enduring one of their first practices of the season. Smith also was heavy-set, as were many of the other players who died.

"He was just a good kid, that's all I can say, a good kid," Smith's father, Al Smith Sr., told ABC station KTRK-TV in Houston. "Whatever happened, I'm lost for words."

This tragic football preseason also claimed the life of an assistant football coach.

Wade McLain, 55, died during the first day of practice at Prestonwood Academy in Plano, Texas, on Aug. 1. He had a heart condition, and was conducting practice in 100-degree heat.

The dangers of student-athletes training in extreme heat create tragedies every year, and the number of deaths has been increasing. But nobody can remember a summer as lethal for young football players as this one. Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, this also has been a summer of record-shattering heat.

From 1980 to 1984, an average of one high school football player died each year during the summer practice season. But the death rate has roughly tripled to 2.8 deaths per since then, according to a study last month by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The researchers concluded that two trends—the growing number of overweight and obese players and the increasing frequency of heat waves—are "increasing the risk of heat-related illness and death for high school football players."

The study also found that many deaths occur at the start of the practice season, which it said was most likely the result of young players trying to do too much, too soon.

The first death this summer occurred July 26. Isaiah Laurencin, a 285-pound senior offensive lineman at Miramar High School in South Florida, went into cardiac arrest during his team's second workout session that day.

A gifted player who had three college scholarship offers, Laurencin died a short time later. Autopsy results are pending.

Four days later, Tyquan Brantley, 14, a freshman at Lamar High School in South Carolina, collapsed during practice and later died. The coroner said his death was related to a "sickle-cell crisis" brought on by 101-degree heat.

Two 16-year-old football players in Georgia died on Aug. 2 from heat exhaustion. Donteria Searcy was found unconscious in his cabin after a morning workout at his high school's football camp. Forrest Jones of Locust Grove High School, had passed out after a drill a week earlier, and never regained consciousness.

And in Arkansas, 15-year-old Montel Williams collapsed while wearing full gear an hour into practice at Gurdon High School near Arkadelphia on Aug. 9. The temperature in the area was 93, with a heat index of 110. An autopsy found Williams had a heart condition.

In Houston, administrators at Eisenhower are offering grief counselors to students mourning the sudden death of Al Smith Jr.

"It's just tragic. I mean, to understand that these kids play together, they're friends, they grew up with each other—it's just very painful for the community," one parent said.

A moment of silence was held for Smith and his family before Friday night's game against North Shore High School, but the emotions were just too much for the team to overcome. Eisenhower lost, 51-7.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Houston Drought, Heat Wave Brings Plague of Bugs, Broken Pipes

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Houston is suffering through its worst drought in decades, and the misery is being compounded by a plague of mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus, infestations of fleas, and a cascade of bursting water pipes that are spilling the city's precious water supply.

Most worrisome for the city is the sudden surge in the number of mosquitoes carrying West Nile.

"This summer we had an incredibly dry, very hot summer and so that will do nothing but increase the positive number of mosquitoes," said Kristy Murray, an assistant professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center, who has studied the West Nile virus for nine years.

More than three times the number of mosquitoes as last year have tested positive for West Nile virus, she said.

With so little water and such high temperatures, mosquitoes and birds are coming into more frequent contact as they seek out the same limited water sources.  The birds, which carry West Nile, transmit the virus to the mosquitoes when the birds are bitten, Murray said.

So far only four cases of West Nile have been reported in humans this year, but Murray said she expects even more cases in her state.

"Usually 80 percent of cases occur in August and September in humans," she said, adding that people sometimes don't show symptoms right away.

West Nile Virus causes inflammation of the brain and meningitis, and can be fatal.

For some reason the drought and heat wave has also increased the activity of fleas in Houston.

Murray said her dogs have fleas, something that can be attributed to the climate.

"I have been using every flea product on my dogs, from oral to topical, and they still have them," she said. "Fleas have never been a problem for my dogs before."

Murray said she had heard similar stories from neighbors, who have had to treat their pets for infestations for the first time.

Just as Houston is trying to preserve its dwindling supply of water, its system of water pipes are bursting at a rate of 700 a day, up from the usual rate of 200 a day at this time of year.

The heat wave has dried out the ground so much that the soil is shrinking, leaving gaps around the pipes.  At times, the pipes sag and crack.  At other times, the increased use of water bursts through older, worn out pipes at a spot where the soil has fallen away the from pipes.

With so much water spilling into streets, the city is having trouble maintaining water pressure and instituted water rationing this week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Guidelines Issued for Kids Exercising in Hot Weather

Polka Dot Images/Thinkstock(ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill.) -- As parents get ready to send their kids back to school, the American Academy of Pediatrics is out with new recommendations Monday on how kids can exercise safely in the heat.

Among the updated guidelines are calls for risk-reduction training, careful monitoring for heat illness, providing rest periods, breaks for sufficient hydration, and modifying activities as needed depending weather conditions.

The biggest change, however, in the newly released policy -- published in the September issue of Pediatrics -- is the AAP's recognition that kids can adapt to exercise in heat just as well as adults.

"If kids are well hydrated and they're doing the same as adults, they can quite honestly handle those conditions just as well as adults," says Dr. Michael Bergeron, co-author of the guidelines and director of the National Institute for Athletic Health and Performance in South Dakota.

The AAP had previously noted in its 2000 policy that children weren't as able to adapt to heat stress as adults.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tips for Keeping Student-Athletes Safe from Heat Illnesses

BananaStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- The grueling summer heat wave is taking a toll on people, crops and livestock as it blankets the center of the country, and perhaps nobody is exposed to the ravaging heat more than student athletes training for the fall season, practicing hours a day in triple digit temperatures.

"The youngsters and the elderly are the two populations most affected by the heat," said Dr. Wally Ghurabi, the medical director of the UCLA Emergency Center in Santa Monica, Calif.

"In the case of the youngsters, their systems are not as well developed, and the mechanism that the body uses to lower the temperature is hindered by the environmental factors such as the extreme heat, humidity and exercise."

The first level of heat-related illness is heat cramps, during which muscles begin cramping. Next on the continuum would be heat exhaustion, in which the athlete begins to feel fatigued, dizzy and nauseous with potential vomiting. Finally, the mother of all heat related illnesses is heat stroke, in which a person becomes unconscious or delirious and has seizures.

"At this point, the core body temperature is above 106 degrees," said Dr. Ghurabi. "The temperature lowering medication will not work anymore because the thalamus, the part of the brain that controls the body temperature, is malfunctioning."

The normal core body temperature is 98.6 degrees.

With a month of triple digit temperatures forecast in many areas, Rebecca Stearns, the Director of Education for the Korey Stringer Institute, offers advice for student athletes, coaches and parents to keep players safe.

The institute, founded in memory of Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Korey Stringer, who died from exertional heat stroke in 2001 is dedicated to preventing heat-related illnesses through communication prevention and treatment techniques.

Tips for avoiding heat-related incidents:

  • Ensure athletes have extra rest breaks and longer breaks.
  • Ensure athletes are acclimatized to the heat. "When the environment is different from what you are used to exercising in, that is when you have to be careful," said Stearns. Extra caution is especially important during the first 3 to 5 days of practice in the heat or preseason, when most incidents will occur.
  • Reduce the intensity of exercise until your body is used to the heat.
  • Arrive at each practice hydrated, and drink when you can.
  • Educate coaches and athletes about heat-related illness and proper hydration.
  • Reduce the amount of equipment and clothing worn by the athlete.
  • Back off on your intensity if you can.
  • Have practice in the coolest part of the day.
  • Speak up if you do not feel well. If you feel that your body is trying to tell you something, let someone know immediately. If a player or another athlete is struggling more than usual, don't be afraid to say something to ask them.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Summer Scorcher! Here Are Some Ways to Beat the Heat

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As temperatures continue to rise across parts of the country, the National Weather Service has offered some 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


Many Older People Ignoring Heat Warnings

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Even though the elderly are at high risk for heat-related illness, many older Americans don't heed heat-advisory warnings as carefully as they should, because they don't consider themselves old.

With dangerously high heat and humidity baking parts of the U.S., experts who work with the elderly want them to understand that even if they could once exercise or perform physical labor in hot weather, their bodies have changed now.

"As we age, and especially as we get into our 70s or 80s, we don't tolerate heat or perceive the dangers as well as when we were younger," said Dr. Corey Slovis, head of emergency medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

A study done by a professor at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, in 2006 found that 90 percent of participants older than 65 knew about the risks associated with heat and humidity but believed they applied to people older than they were.

"No one wants to admit they're older," said Peter Ross, CEO and co-founder of Senior Helpers, a company that provides in-home assistance to elderly clients. Ross was not involved in the Kent State University research. "They can be stubborn because they don't want to be considered seniors."

Staying hydrated is one of the most important things older people should do in the extreme heat. Dehydration is one of the most common problems.

"The inability to perceive dehydration can lead to dehydration and the inability to sweat, which can lead to heat exhaustion and then can progress to heat stroke," said Slovis.

One of the biggest dangers of heat-related illnesses for the elderly is the increased risk of falling.

"As they get dehydrated, potentially getting dizzy or fainting, and we don't want them to fall," said Ross.

Older people are also more likely to be on multiple medications, and Slovis said certain medications can make them more vulnerable to heat-related illnesses.

Additionally, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can make pre-existing medical conditions, such as heart disease and lung disease, worse.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Heat Wave Especially Horrible for People with Certain Illnesses

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With about half the country baking in a heat wave, hospitals in some of the worst-hit areas are reporting cases of people coming into emergency rooms with heat-related illnesses. Many expect more as the heat wave continues. And they don't necessarily involve heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

"We do not see a lot of hot people but rather people with diseases, alcohol, drugs, old age and disability whose conditions are worsened by the heat," said Dr. James Adams, professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Very high heat and humidity can affect everyone, but experts say in addition to children and the elderly, people with the medical conditions that follow are especially susceptible to heat-related illness:

Allergies, Asthma and Other Breathing Problems

Allergy and asthma specialists say they are seeing more patients whose illnesses have been triggered by the heat and humidity as well as by increased levels of pollutants in the air.

"[We] have seen many new patients for the first time with a diagnosis of asthma made worse by heavy pollens and extreme temperature and humidity levels," said Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of Asthma & Allergy Care of New York.

Bassett also said that in addition to pollen, mold levels increase when it's very humid.

The heat wave is also causing more serious breathing problems, including very severe asthma attacks and a worsening of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). At Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, several patients needed emergency treatment for both these conditions. One of them even needed a breathing tube.

During a heat wave, experts say room air conditioners may not make the environment cool enough.

Bassett advises anyone with allergies or asthma to stay where it's air conditioned, and to change and clean the filters frequently. If you need to go outside, check the pollen counts and pay special attention to ozone alerts.

Heart Disease

"During times of extreme heat, people are prone to dehydration," said Dr. Phil Ragno, director of cardiovascular health and wellness at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. "The more activities we perform, we're losing fluid through perspiration, and that decreases the volume of blood in our system. Blood vessels also dilate when it's hot, and as a result, the heart has to pump harder to circulate a smaller amount of blood."

Ragno also says people with heart conditions should drink a lot of fluids before they leave the house when it's hot and should keep hydrated throughout the day.

"People with heart conditions should weigh themselves each morning. If their weight is down a bit, it might not be body weight, but body fluid they're losing, which is a sign of impending troubles," Ragno said.

Pregnant Women

"Pregnant women are already undergoing a lot of physiological changes," said Dr. Eric Coris, associate professor of family medicine at the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa. "Blood volume expands and sometimes blood return is not as good, so they may get swelling in certain parts of the body."

Increased blood flow and hormone changes that occur during pregnancy can make women feel hotter, and the swelling can have that same effect. As a result, women need to drink plenty of water.

Pregnant women with borderline high blood pressure also need to carefully monitor salt intake.

Other Tips for Beating Heat-Related Illness

Besides staying indoors where it's cool, experts have advice for others who need or want to venture outside.

"People who are bedridden and don't have access to water and are not in an air-conditioned area are at highest risk of developing heat stroke," said Slovis.

Athletes who are exercising for a long period of time should drink at least 8 to 10 ounces of water every 15 minutes. If they are exercising for 30 to 60 minutes or longer, Coris says they should drink sports drinks to help replenish the salt lost through sweating.

"Salt helps the body hold on to fluid and as your sweat rate goes up, you're losing salt as well," Coris said.

But doctors also say people who are diabetic or hypertensive should be careful with sports drinks since they may contain sugar and salt.

It's also important to be aware of the signs of heat stroke, including a shallow pulse, dizziness or fainting, fever with a severe headache, loss of consciousness or signs of confusion.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


How to Avoid the ER in the Upcoming Heat Wave

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As the Northeast prepares for nearly record-breaking temperature spikes over the next several days, urban hospitals are bracing for heat-related illnesses that invariably strike the elderly during the dog days of summer.

The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures reaching into the 90s and 100 degrees with high humidity for the East Coast and Southeast states -- compared with the normal highs for this time of year in the upper 70s to low 80s.

"The main issue is that the elderly are not thinking about [the risks]," says Phillip Russertt, 38, a registered nurse for MJHS Homecare who provides home care for the elderly in Queens, New York. "They don't get warm like we do; they tend to drink fewer fluids on a regular basis.  They feel like they're fine but that doesn't mean they are not at risk."

Because of this, Russertt says the first thing he is checking for in the patients he visits is dehydration.

"It's a real public health issue," says Dr. Michael Stern, co-director of the Geriatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. "Between the 1980s and early 2000s there were more heat-related deaths than deaths from all natural disasters combined."

The National Weather Service has issued heat advisories for the Baltimore-Washington region and parts of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.  Air quality concerns, which cause problems for children, the elderly and those with respiratory problems, were issued along the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic coastline.

As always with summer heat waves, everyone is susceptible to heat exhaustion or the more severe heat stroke, but the young, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions, especially heart disease, are most at risk.

Since temperatures have been on the rise in New York City, Dr. Stern says they are seeing more patients with heat exhaustion -- the precursor to heat stroke.

"They present with headache, nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps and excessive sweating," he says. "The more dangerous cousin to this is heat stroke, which is when the body stops sweating and loses its ability to cool itself. The body temperature rises to 103 or higher, and you run the risk of organ failure, coma, and death."

Among young, healthy individuals, heat stroke can occur after exerting oneself outside in the heat, but for the elderly, especially those on certain medications that affect hydration and body temperature, simply sitting in a hot, un-air-conditioned apartment in the summer can result in heat stroke "in a matter of hours," Stern says.

This is why "hydration is so key" among the elderly, or anyone exerting themselves outdoors in the heat, says Stern.  Two to four eight-ounce glasses of water per hour is the rule of thumb for those working outside on a day with temperatures in the 90s, he says.  And everyone at risk for dehydration should be avoiding alcoholic, caffeinated and/or sugary beverages as they will only dehydrate further.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Heat Overexposure: Know the Signs, How to Act

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Scorching temperatures in many areas over Memorial Day weekend sent several people to emergency rooms for heat overexposure. Baltimore, Laredo, Texas, Louisville, Ky., and Raleigh, N.C., all tied record high temperatures Monday -- and more heat is on the way.

Air conditioning and portable air conditioners can get expensive, so what are things you can do to avoid the heat? Can you recognize the signs of heat exhaustion? And would you know what to do if someone started to show symptoms of it?

Tips for Staying Cool This Summer

  • Be aware of the heat. Pay attention to it and modify your activities appropriately.
  • Pay attention to your hydration status, and be sure to drink plenty of fluids.
  • Try to stay in relatively cool areas, even when outside. Many public places such as libraries, shopping malls and movie theatres are air conditioned.
  • Avoid hot enclosed places, such as cars. Never leave children unattended in a car parked in the sun.
  • Use a fan, if available.
  • Stay on the lowest floor of your building.
  • Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Cover windows that receive a significant amount of sun with drapes or shades to help keep your house cool.
  • Weatherstripping and proper insulation will keep cool air inside your home.
  • Cool beverages are good for cooling down the body, while alcoholic drinks can impair the body's ability to regulate its temperature.

Signs of Heat Overexposure

  • Heavy sweating. But if heat stroke sets in, the body can no longer compensate and stops sweating.
  • Pale skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Feeling tired and weak
  • Altered mental status (confusion or disorientation)
  • Headache
  • Becoming semi-conscious, or passing out.
  • Nausea or vomiting

First Steps to take After Recognizing Heat-Induced Illness

  • Call 911.
  • Get the person out of the sun and into a cool area. An air-conditioned area is ideal, but moving someone into the shade will also help.
  • Apply water to help the person cool off.
  • Apply ice to the neck or armpits, where large blood vessels are close to the surface.
  • Remove any heavy clothing
  • Immerse the body in cool water, either at a swimming pool or in a bathtub.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio