JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) -The high temperatures can be far more dangerous than people realize.
A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessive heat, generally 10 degrees or more above average, usually combined with excessive humidity.
Dr. Mark Wiggins with St. Bernards Medical Center said being out in the hot temperatures can lead to medical problems if you don’t prepare and pay attention to the signs your body is giving you.
“The humidity can make things worse than you realize,” Dr. Wiggins said. “You look at the temperature and it says one thing, but the added humidity makes exposure worse. If you have to be out in the hot temperatures, make sure you have plenty of water with you. Make sure it’s on you and ready for you to sip the moment you need it. Thirst is one of the first warning signs. Whatever you do, don’t ignore your thirst.”
Dr. Wiggins also said not to go by a set volume of water to drink. Everyone’s body is different and will need a different amount out in the weather.
“You have to listen to your body,” Dr. Wiggins said. “If you’re thirsty, you need to drink water. Find the balance that works best for you. And water is best to drink in these temperatures. That’s what your body needs. It’s better than sports or energy drinks that have sugar or other ingredients in them.”
There are a number of things people can do to avoid getting sick.
Recommendations are drinking plenty of water, take breaks and get in the shade, wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing, wear a hat, and put on sunscreen. Work in teams so you can look out for each other. Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid extreme temperature changes. Slow down, stay indoors and avoid being out during the peak temperatures. The hottest times occur from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Also avoid drinking alcohol.
According to the American Red Cross, heat waves have caused more deaths than all other weather events, including floods.
Dr. Wiggins said people need to be aware of the seriousness of being out in hot temperatures.
“It’s serious and potentially life threatening,” Dr. Wiggins said. “Take preventative measures if you’re going to be out in it. Avoid being out if you can. Recognize when your body needs a break. You don’t want to suffer from heat stress or heat stroke.”
There are some warning signs you need to be aware of if you or someone you know will be out in the hot temperatures.
Signs of heat exhaustion are:
- Faint or dizzy
- Excessive sweating
- Cool, pale or clammy palms
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid, weak pulse
- Muscle cramps
If you or someone you know suffers from heat exhaustion, there are several treatment options.
You can get to a cooler, air-conditioned area. Drink water if you are fully conscious, take a cool shower or use a cool compress.
Dr. Wiggins said a heat stroke occurs when your body is beginning to shut down.
Signs of a heat stroke are:
- Throbbing headache
- Sweating stops
- Temperature over 103 degrees
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid, strong pulse
- Loss of consciousness
If you or someone you know is suffering from heat stroke, call 911 immediately and reduce the temperature until emergency services arrive.
Never leave animals, children or seniors in a hot car.
Dr. Wiggins said to also be aware of what happens when you travel.
“If you’re traveling to a new area,” Dr. Wiggins said. “Most people don’t realize it takes your body 10 days to climatize to the new area it’s in. So, remember you may need to drink more water than you normally do or give yourself more breaks. Always pay attention to your body and the signs it’s giving you.”