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The Villages
Friday, August 19, 2022

Sumter County dispatch center sees spike in heat-related emergencies

The heat and humidity are in full force this summer. Extreme heat and humidity can be tough on everyone, but they particularly hit the hardest for the elderly, those with pre-existing health issues, and young children, according to the National Weather Service. The Sumter County Emergency Communications Center has already seen an increase in calls related to heat in the past few weeks.

People who are not acclimated to hot weather may overexert themselves. People who are obese or use alcohol or certain medicines are at a greater risk of heat injury. Your doctor can tell you if your medicine puts you in danger of heatstroke.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very serious and knowing how to identify their symptoms can help prevent serious injury or death.

Heat exhaustion symptoms include feeling faint or dizzy, excessive sweating, cool or clammy skin, nausea or vomiting, rapid weak pulse, and muscle cramps. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it can progress to heat stroke. Heat stroke, which is severe, occurs when your body’s temperature rises rapidly, your sweating mechanism fails and your body cannot cool itself down. Heat stroke symptoms include a throbbing headache, no sweating, body temperature above 103 (red, hot, dry skin), nausea or vomiting, rapid strong pulse, and potential loss of consciousness. If you think you may have heatstroke, you should quickly find a cool, shady place, and immediately call 9-1-1.

Tiredness, weakness, and headaches are all signs to get yourself out of the sun, inside or somewhere cooler, and start rehydrating. To prevent heat-related illnesses, you need to drink at least eight ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes while outdoors. Wearing lightweight, light- colored clothing reflects heat and sunlight, and helps your body maintain normal temperatures. You should limit over consumption of alcoholic beverages or energy drinks with caffeine. While it may be refreshing at the time, alcohol and caffeinated energy drinks can increase the risk of heat illness. Avoid getting too much sun by wearing sunscreen. A sunburn makes the job of heat dissipation more difficult. Furthermore, you should reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous outdoor activities to the coolest times of the day. Individuals at risk should stay in the coolest available place or find shade while outdoors.

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