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Have Fun in the Texas Sun, but Watch for Heat Stroke

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Right around the 4th of July holiday is one of the most popular times for vacations, when many Texas families pack up and head for the lake or the beach to beat the heat.

Anyone who spends too much time in the hot sun can fall victim to a heat-related illness, especially people who aren’t used to extreme heat and humidity.

Dr. Don Bucklin, regional medical director for U.S. Healthworks, says normally, your body cools itself off by sweating – but during hot weather, particularly with high humidity, sweating sometimes isn’t enough. He says hydration is the key.

“You have to be ahead on hydration,” he says. “You can’t wait until you’re really, really thirsty, or feel sick and then hydrate, because you’ve already waited too long.”

When heat illness hits, he says, cramps are usually the first sign, followed by intense sweating, nausea, and headache. Heat stroke, also known as sun stroke, is the most dangerous and happens when a person’s internal body temperature starts to rise.

Bucklin says it’s best to hydrate with water or sports drinks that replace electrolytes – and to avoid sodas, beer and other forms of alcohol.

He says some people are more susceptible to heat illnesses than others, including those working outdoors, folks who are very young or elderly, and those who are overweight. Concerns also increase for chronic alcoholics and people who take some types of medications.

“Certain tranquilizers, certain antihypertensives make you more susceptible to it, because they change the fluid balance in your body,” he explains. “The other thing is, if you are older, your fluid system is less tolerant of big swings.”

People who have a heat stroke have body temperatures that can reach 104 degrees and higher. Bucklin says in those cases, it is a medical issue and a trip to the emergency room is mandatory.

Author: Mark Richardson, Public News Service (TX)

Heat Claims Four Lives in El Paso

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health learned today that four deaths in our area have been attributed to heat-related illnesses.

The victims, three males and one female, range in age from their mid-30’s to their early 80’s and lived in various parts of the city. Three of the deaths were related to heat stroke and one showed heat exposure as a contributing factor.

“This is a heartbreaking scenario considering the fact that most heat-related deaths are preventable,” said Robert Resendes, Public Health Director. “We need our residents to be proactive in this weather and keep an eye out for those who are most vulnerable.”

The most vulnerable include the elderly and young children. They are the most likely to suffer from heat exhaustion which includes: heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale and clammy skin; a fast or weak pulse; nausea or vomiting; and fainting.

They might also experience the more serious symptoms of heat stroke which include: a body temperature above 103°F; hot, red, dry or moist skin; rapid and strong pulse; and possible loss of consciousness.

It is recommended that those suffering from heat exhaustion move to a cooler location; lie down and loosen your clothing; apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible; sip water; and if you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention immediately.

Those suffering from heat stroke should: call 911 immediately — this is a medical emergency; move the person to a cooler environment; reduce the person’s body temperature with cool cloths or even a bath; and do not give fluids.

The Extreme Weather Task Force, a community group made up of representatives from various agencies, also reminds residents that free fans are still available to homes with no air-conditioning. They are encouraged to dial 2-1-1 to see if they qualify. Donations of new fans can also be made at any El Paso Fire station.

The City of El Paso would also like to remind residents that public libraries, recreation centers, and senior centers are good locations for anyone looking to escape the heat.

The mission of the Department of Public Health is to provide research and evaluation, prevention, intervention, and mobilization services to the people of El Paso so they can be healthy, productive, safe, and secure.

For more information on the programs and services offered by the Department of Public Health, visit EPHealth.com or dial 2-1-1.

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