High heat means high volume at area ERs

Nona Richards eats lunch with friends at the Rose Hill Senior Center in Dothan.
Nona Richards eats lunch with friends at the Rose Hill Senior Center in Dothan.

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email

DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - As the sun keeps shining, the temperature keeps rising. And Nona Richards can feel it.

"I think it's the hottest I've ever seen!"

As a senior citizen Nona knows her body is a little more susceptable to the dangers extreme heat can bring.  That's why she's making an effort to keep cool.

"I try to stay in most of the time except leaving the house and coming to the [senior] center. So, I'm basically under air conditioning all the time."

It's a safe bet for residents like Nona especially since doctors say older adults and young children are more likely to suffer from heat related illnesses.

Doctors at the Southeast Alabama Medical Center say with such high temperatures, this season is a little different.

Despite the usual trend, illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stoke are bringing more than just the young and elderly into the emergency room.

"What we're seeing more commonly here are a younger population, those who are between 40 and 60--mostly those who are required to work outside in these conditions," says Dr. Van Baker, with the Southeast Alabama Medical Center.

Physicians say heat related illnesses can creep up on you before you even know it.

"Prevention is really the most important thing," says Baker.

So what can you do?  Doctors say wear light colored and loosefitting clothing.  Keep outdoor activities limited to cooler times of the day.  Always drink plenty of water.

That's a step that's easy for Nona.

"Mostly I just chug-a-lug water."

Doctors say some signs of heat exhaustion are sweating, dizziness, extreme fatigue or nauseousness.  Signs of heat stroke include confusion, hallucinations, and even unconsciousness.

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