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Beat the heat

This week’s high temperatures combined with a heat index over 100 posed dangerous, even fatal, hazards to area residents and animals — heat cramps, heat exhaustion and sunstroke.

The National Weather Service advises that once the heat index tops 90, people are at much higher risk for heat cramps, sunstroke and heat exhaustion if they experience prolonged exposure to the heat. Heatstroke is a medical emergency where the person’s body temperature reaches 106 degrees or higher. A person can become unconscious and need emergency medical assistance.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can affect anyone, especially people who work outside or in hot inside environments such as some manufacturing jobs. People involved in recreational activities, such as playing baseball, also are at risk. A lot of times, such people don’t realized, until it’s too late, just how much the extreme heat is affecting them.

According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human services, there were about 163 emergency departments visits for heat-related illnesses across the state during the week of June 10-16. So far this season, there have been about 822 heat-related illnesses treated in emergency departments across the state. Most of those heat-related illnesses occurred in the Piedmont region (48 percent) and coastal region (43 percent).

The Mayo Clinic offers the following advice to prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke:

  • wear loose-fitting, light-weight and light-colored clothing;
  • avoid sunburn
  • seek cooler places;
  • drink plenty of fluids;
  • avoid hot spots (inside of a parked car);
  • let your body acclimate to the heat.

Heatstroke requires emergency treatment. Left untreated, heatstroke can cause brain, heart, kidney and muscle damage. Damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing the risk of serious complications or death.

Heat-related illnesses are treatable, and the sooner such treatment is provided, the better.

Do what’s necessary to beat the heat instead of the heat beating you.