WINSTON-SALEM -- The unofficial start to summer brings with it a spike in heat-related illnesses.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reported that people visited emergency departments more than 1,200 times last summer for heat-related issues, and that trend began Memorial Day weekend, when temperatures hovered in the 90s.
David Cline, professor of emergency medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem explained the very young and the very old are the most susceptible to having a heat-related issue.
"The real concern is someone whose body temperature goes up and stays up and then they are no longer themselves. They can't think for themselves; they become confused. That's actually heat stroke," he said.
DHHS offers these summer safety tips:
- Know the symptoms of heat stroke -- high body temperature, dry skin (no sweating), rapid pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, or unconsciousness. If you or someone you know has these symptoms, cool your body temperature (like cold showers or water) and seek immediate medical assistance.
- Limit your time outdoors, especially in the afternoon when the day is hottest.
-Never leave a child, a disabled or elderly person, or a pet in an unattended car, even with the windows down. A closed vehicle can heat up to dangerous levels in as little as 10 minutes.
- Dress appropriately in loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothes.
- Also remember that some medications, as certain psychiatric medications, can affect your ability to sweat. Consult your health care provider for recommendations on how to monitor your body’s response to the heat while taking medicines."
Cline said stay hydrated while out in the sun with a sports drink that has a little salt, potassium and sugar.