Beating the heat: How checking on loved ones could help prevent heat-related illness

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Warm temperatures seem like they’re here to stay and Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County (PHDMC) says right now is the time to start thinking proactively about being safe in the heat.

“One of the things you want to try to do, is if you’re doing a lot of outdoor activities, try to do them early in the morning or later in the afternoon when it’s cooler,” said Dan Suffoletto, public information officer for PHDMC.

He said the next best alternative is to utilize air conditioning. But those who work outdoors or simply do not have access, should use other methods, including opening windows, using fans and staying hydrated.

Experts across the Miami Valley agree, one of the most important and overlooked precautions for preventing heat – related illness is checking on loved ones. 

“I think one of the most important things to do is to be aware of our more frail and fragile neighbors and family members and really kind of keep touch with them,” said Dr. Nancy Pook, an emergency physician with Kettering Health.

Suffoletto adds that people over 65, along with overweight individuals and those suffering from conditions like diabetes or heart disease, need to be particularly careful because they’re at greater risk.

That includes making sure at-risk populations have water, that their air conditioning is functioning properly and they have help opening windows. Dr. Thomas Krzmarzick. division chief of emergency medicine at Dayton Children’s, warns that children show symptoms a lot slower than adults.

“The main difference is, especially for small children, infants and toddlers, is that they have much less body surface area to lose heat, they have more difficult problems with temperature control, and therefore they cannot tolerate the heat near as well as an adult can,” he said.

As a result, Krzmarzick said caretakers should ensure children are taking breaks while playing outside, staying hydrated with both water and electrolytes, and being dressed in cool clothing. The most important tip regarding children, is to never leave them in a hot vehicle under any circumstance.

“It only takes up about 10 minutes for the temperature of the vehicle to rise about 20 degrees or so. And they can get up to 140, 150 (degrees) and higher within a very short period of time.”

Each expert emphasized that regardless of age or health conditions, the best way to avoid heat-related illness is to take proactive measures for yourself and for others.

“We just need to really be cognizant and be checking on those really important family members [and] community members that just need a little bit of extra support during the extremes of weather,” said Pook.

To learn more about extreme heat precautions, click here.

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