North Texas

MedStar's Tips for Beating the Summer Heat

NBC 5 News

As North Texans continue to face the summer heat, MedStar is offering advice on how to prevent heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Since June 20, MedStar crews have treated 10 patients with a primary heat-related condition. Of those patients, seven required transport to the hospital, none were in serious or critical condition.

During the month of June, crews have treated 108 patients with a primary heat-related condition, 78 of which required transport to the hospital. Of those patients, seven were in critical condition.

According to MedStar, heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses large amounts of water and salt through excessive sweating, particularly through hard physical labor or exercise. 

This loss of essential fluids can disturb circulation and interfere with brain function, MedStar said.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include muscle cramps, paleness, sweating, nausea, and vomiting. MedStar said children and the elderly are especially susceptible.

Heatstroke is a life-threatening problem that occurs when the body suffers from long, intense exposure to heat and loses its ability to cool itself. MedStar said some of the most common signs of heatstroke include confusion, vomiting, alteration in sweating, hot and flushed skin, rapid heart rate, decreased sweating, shortness of breath, decreased urination, increased body temperature, or convulsions. 

Heatstroke is a medical emergency. If you or someone you know starts experiencing any of the symptoms above, immediately call 9-1-1.

While heatstroke and heat exhaustion are common this time of year, they can be prevented. Here are some of MedStar's tips for avoiding heat-related illnesses:

  • Hydrate: Drink plenty of water during the day, especially if you are engaged in any strenuous activity. Sports drinks are a good choice if you're exercising or working in hot conditions, but water is a good way to hydrate as well.
  • Ventilate: Stay in a place where there is plenty of air circulating to keep your body cool. If you are indoors and don't have access to air conditioning, open windows and use a fan.
  • Cover Up: Wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothing to avoid absorbing the sun's light and trapping heat.  Wear a hat to shield yourself from the sun, but once you feel yourself getting warm, remove any items covering your head which can trap heat close to your body.
  • Limit Activity: Heatstroke can occur in less than an hour when you are participating in strenuous activity during a hot day.  If you feel yourself getting hot or light-headed, stop your activity and rest in a cool place out of the sun.  Be sure to drink water or a sports drink before, during, and after any strenuous activity.
  • Check on Loved Ones: The elderly are especially vulnerable to heat related emergencies. Many elderly residents are not aware of how hot it may get in their residence. Call on older friends and family members regularly to assure they are doing okay.

Texas leads the nation in child hot car deaths, MedStar said. Some practical tips to prevent tragedy include not leaving children unattended in cars and making sure vehicles are secured to prevent a curious child from becoming trapped in the car on a hot day.  

MedStar said if you have a car seat for a child, leave a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the child is in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front seat as a reminder of the child in the back seat.

According to MedStar, using reminders or alarms on your phone can help you to remember to check for kids when you arrive at your destination.

If you find a child unattended in a hot car, alert authorities immediately and be prepared to take action based on the instructions from the 911 call taker, MedStar said.

MedStar has a special response procedure when the heat index temperature climbs to 105 degrees or higher. 

MedStar also has new ambulances that were designed with the Texas heat in mind. The ambulances have three air conditioners: one in the cab and two in the patient/crew compartment.

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