Passavant’s Dr. Hale offers tips for staying safe in extreme heat

By Blake Schnitker on June 18 at 1:15pm

Area residents are encouraged to stay cool as The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for the entire state of Illinois until 7 p.m. this evening.

Now that we’ve reached the middle of June, the warm Illinois weather is officially here, with daytime highs in the mid-90s with the humidity making it feel like we’re well into the triple digits today. With this in mind, it’s vital that local residents are aware of the potential dangers of heat exhaustion, and review some basic safety tips for protecting oneself against extreme heat.

Dr. Marshall Hale is the Chief Medical Officer for Passavant Area Hospital in Jacksonville. When heat advisories are issued like the one today, Dr. Hale says it’s important for Jacksonville residents to avoid certain activities that could lead to extreme heat exhaustion.

“When the advisories are out like they are today, it’s very important for us to have short periods of activity in direct sunlight, probably not more than about 30 minutes without getting in, getting some fluids and cooling down. The time is much less for older people or people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, multiple medications for blood pressure. In the high humidity and the high heat, we can’t sweat and evaporate our skin, and that’s what allows us to heat up, and that heating is what causes the symptoms. So short periods of exertion, very limited. Probably no exertion in mid-day out in the direct sunlight, especially for middle-aged and older people,” says Dr. Hale.

In terms of what area residents should be looking out for, Dr. Hale goes over the most common symptoms of heat exhaustion.

“Symptoms of the first stage, which is heat exhaustion, are heavy sweating, cold, pale skin, fast pulse, a lot of people have a nauseous feeling, muscle cramps, weakness, headache. So while people are outside in the sun, in the heat, exerting themselves, if they start to feel any illness at all like that, they need to immediately get out of the heat, get in a cool place, loosen their clothes, put a cold, wet cloth on their neck and start taking in clear, cold fluids,” Dr. Hale says.

Dr. Hale also explains that, if mistreated or left untreated, heat exhaustion can have rather serious, sometimes fatal, consequences.

Dr. Hale advises people that are working outdoors today to consume around a half liter to a full liter of water at least every thirty minutes or so. The heat advisory stays in effect throughout the state until approximately 7 p.m.