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What is the deadliest weather event in the United States? Believe it or not, it’s heat — killing more than 600 people a year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Joe Pendon, Medical Director and Emergency Room physician at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Medical Center answers some true and false questions about surviving the Texas summer heat.
You can be dehydrated without feeling thirsty.
True. Thirst is actually a poor indicator of how hydrated you are. By the time you’re thirsty, you’ve already lost some fluids. Hydrate before you enter the outdoors.
Sports drinks can help you beat the heat.
False. Sports drinks can help you recover electrolytes after a workout, but when it comes to re-hydrating, water is your best bet. Some sports drinks contain excess sugar or caffeine, which can make you feel more thirsty.
Humidity in the air helps hydrate your body.
False. Actually, dry heat is a better than humid heat. It allows better heat loss when you sweat to cool your body temperature. However, if you are sweating a lot even in dry heat, that may put you at risk for dehydration which can still lead to heat stroke.
Only children and the elderly should be concerned about heat.
False. Hot temperatures and humidity can affect anyone, regardless of age or health. Healthy, young people are better equipped to handle the heat, while senior citizens and children are more vulnerable to heat stress. Still, everyone who works outside can succumb to excessive heat.
Heat-related illnesses start with heat exhaustion and progress to the life threatening condition called heat stroke. The warning signs of a heat-related illness is: cool, sweaty, moist skin with goose bumps in the heat, dizziness, headache, muscle cramps with nausea and vomiting.
When you notice a person appearing confused, hallucinating, having seizures, or unconscious, you need to call 911 right away.
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. If you are sweating a lot, consider adding some sports drinks to replace the salts and minerals.
- Use sunscreen, wear loose, light colored clothing, and a hat with a wide brim.
- Limit your outdoor activities midday to 4:00 p.m., which is the hottest part of the day.
- Pace yourself: if you are exercising in the heat, don’t allow your heart to race.
- If you suspect someone may have heat stroke, call 911 and get them to shade or air conditioning. Attempt to cool them down with a sponge or towel doused in cool water (no ice), and fan them.
The summer is meant to be enjoyed, and if you’d like more information about CHRISTUS Santa Rosa and its specialists, join us online at www.christussantarosa.org.