Warning signs to watch out for during excessive heat

Virginia News

Differences between heatstroke and heat exhaustion

PETERSBURG, Va. — According to numbers released by the Virginia Department of Health, there were 90 visits to emergency rooms and urgent care clinics Wednesday for heat-related illnesses. Fifty-eight people visited them the day before. 

Of those, 12 percent of people were admitted to the hospital Wednesday. Two types of heat-related illnesses include heat stroke and heat exhaustion. 

Dr. Clarence Clarke from Southside Regional Medical Center says you put yourself at risk for developing these illnesses by being outside for even an hour. 

“When there’s a heatwave, sometimes you can see anywhere from 5 to 10 patients coming into the emergency department with heat-related illnesses,” Dr. Clarke said. 

When you notice someone getting sick in the heat, Dr. Clarke says it’s important to get them in a cool area with air conditioning or fans and to get them to start drinking water. If they start to develop signs of heatstroke, call 911.

You may notice that person beginning to act confused, that’s a sign to take seriously. 

– High body temperature, reaching 104 degrees Fahrenheit 
– Confusion and loss of coordination 
– Hot, dry skin 
– Stopping sweating
– Rapid heartbeat
– Throbbing headache 

– Slightly elevated body temperature 
– Rapid heartbeat 
– Heavy sweating 
– Clammy skin
– Extreme weakness or fatigue 
– Nausea, vomiting 
– Fast, shallow breathing 

“Once your body gets to a certain level, you’ll start to see different organs start to fail,” he added, “particularly liver and kidneys.” 

When a patient gets to the hospital, hospital staff will try to cool them down and get them hydrated. Sometimes, they will use cooling blankets or ice packs. 

A way to avoid ending up in the emergency room is to go somewhere out of the heat to stay cool. The Petersburg Family YMCA has seen nearly double the visitors during the heatwave this week.

Jasmine-Symone Pruden, of the YMVCA, says many are taking advantage of the pool and basketball courts, especially the kids.

“One of the things about staying inside and giving them the opportunity to be here is that they have a safe space to hang out, to hang around,” Pruden said. “We do different activities for them but it keeps them off the streets and out of the heat.”

Besides playing in the water, be sure to drink plenty of it too. Dr. Clarke says you should hydrate before leaving your home and while doing activities. 

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