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Tips to Stay Safe During Nebraska's Heat Wave

Nebraskans working outdoors are more prone to heat-related illness. (Pixabay)
Nebraskans working outdoors are more prone to heat-related illness. (Pixabay)
July 20, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska is under an extreme heat advisory for the next couple of days, and as temperatures rise, so do the risks of heat-related illness.

People who are not used to extreme temperatures are especially vulnerable to getting sick when the thermometer rises.

Dr. Don Bucklin, regional medical director for U.S. HealthWorks, says normally, the body cools itself off by sweating, but during hot weather, particularly with high humidity, sweating sometimes isn't enough. He says hydration is the key.

"You have to be ahead on hydration,” he stresses. “You can't wait until you're really, really thirsty, or feel sick and then hydrate, because you've already waited too long."

When heat illness hits, he says cramps are usually the first sign, followed by intense sweating, nausea and headache.

Heat stroke, also known as sunstroke, is the most dangerous and happens when a person's internal body temperature starts to rise.

Bucklin says that should be considered a medical emergency because it can be fatal.

Heat index values over 100 are expected the next couple of days in Nebraska.

Bucklin says some people are more susceptible to heat illnesses than others, including those working outdoors, folks who are very young or elderly, and those who are obese. Concerns also increase for chronic alcoholics and people taking some types of medications.

"Certain tranquilizers, certain anti-hypertensives make you more susceptible to it, because they change the fluid balance in your body,” he explains. “The other thing is, if you are older, your fluid system is less tolerant of big swings."

People who have a heat stroke have body temperatures that reach 104 degrees and higher. Bucklin says in those cases, an emergency room visit is mandatory.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NE