(NEW YORK) -- As record temperatures continue to bake the country's midsection, heat-related hospital visits are on the rise.
Excessive heat warnings are in effect for a large swath of central United States, according to the National Weather Service. And the scorching temperatures are expected to linger for the next couple weeks.
Central air conditioning and portable air conditioners can get expensive, so what can you 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?
Dr. William P. Bozeman, an associate professor of emergency medicine and the emergency services director at Wake Forest University, shared some tips with ABC News that will help you keep cool and recognize the signs of heat overexposure, and the steps to take if you experience those symptoms or see them in someone else.
Bozeman cautioned that it is important to be aware of the temperature. Temps in the 90s and higher are dangerous, and become more dangerous the higher they go and the longer they last. The very young and the very old are at the highest risk, as their weight and age can impair their ability to handle high temperatures.
11 Tips for Staying Cool This Summer
1. Be aware of the heat.
2. Pay attention to your hydration status and be sure to drink plenty of fluids.
3. Try to stay in relatively cool areas, even when outside.
4. Avoid hot, enclosed places, such as cars.
5. Use a fan, if available.
6. Stay on the lowest floor of your building.
7. Eat well-balanced, light and regular meals.
8. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing.
9. Cover windows that receive a significant amount of sun.
10. Weather stripping and proper insulation will keep cool air inside your home.
11. Cool beverages are good for cooling down the body, while alcoholic drinks can impair the body's ability to regulate its temperature.
8 Signs of Heat Overexposure
1. Heavy sweating -- though if heat stroke sets in, the body can no longer compensate and stops sweating.
2. Pale skin.
3. Muscle cramps.
4. Feeling tired and weak.
5. Altered mental status (confusion or disorientation).
7. Becoming semi-conscious or passing out.
8. Nausea or vomiting.
6 First Steps to Take After Recognizing Heat-Induced Illness
1. Call 911.
2. Get the person out of the sun and into a cool area.
3. Apply water to help the person cool off.
4. Apply ice to the neck or armpits, where large blood vessels are close to the surface.
5. Remove any heavy clothing.
6. Immerse the body in cool water, either at a swimming pool or in a bathtub.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio