Entries in Hot Temperatures (3)


How to Stay Cool as Heat Wave Hits US

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Summer doesn't officially start until Wednesday evening, but in some parts of the country the sweltering summer heat came early as the temperature in Denver and Phoenix eclipsed 100 on Monday.  And over the next few days, parts of the East Coast will bake as well.

Thousands of people end up in hospitals because of heat-related illnesses every year and according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 3,500 people died after exposure to excessive heat between 1999 and 2003.

Despite the dangerously high heat and humidity, medical experts say there are simple but important ways people can stay cool on oppressively hot days and avoid problems like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Dr. Jeffrey Rabrich, director of EMS and disaster preparedness at St. Luke's & Roosevelt Hospitals in New York, expects to see quite a number of people come to the emergency room with heat-related symptoms over the next few days as temperatures in New York City climb into the 90s.

"Generally, whenever we have a heat wave or high humidity, we get a lot of patients in with symptoms that include dehydration, lightheadedness and passing out," Rabrich said.  "Most people are not too severe and we can treat them by cooling them off and giving them fluids.  But every once in a while, we get a couple of cases of heat stroke."

Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. Doctors warn it can be caused by being out in high temperatures for too long or by being overly active in very hot weather.

People should monitor themselves and others for the classic signs of heat stroke.

"Watch out for symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, or if the skin becomes hot or sweating stops," Rabrich said.

Heat exhaustion is less serious, but if not treated, can progress to heat stroke.  According to the American Red Cross, symptoms of heat exhaustion include cool, moist skin, headache, dizziness and nausea.

There are simple steps people can take to avoid experiencing any hot weather symptoms.

"Avoid outdoor activities during the hottest part of the day, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.," Rabrich said.  "People also must stay hydrated by drinking fluids like water or Gatorade."

Avoid alcohol, he advised, since it can act as a diuretic and lead to dehydration.

There is, however, the danger of overhydration -- also known as "water intoxication" -- so Jeffrey Pellegrino, who serves on the National Scientific Advisory Council for the American Red Cross, advised drinking around half a cup of water every 20 minutes or so if out in the heat.

Proper wardrobe choices will also help keep cool -- wear loose-fitting clothing and a hat if out in the sun.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Heat Safety Tips for the Summer Heat Wave

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(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).
6. Headache.
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


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

ABC News Radio