Tips Offered for Coping With Extreme Heat and Humidity

Published August 26, 2020

Robert F. McCormack, MD, professor and chair of emergency medicine, is warning of the dangers of heat-related illnesses during the summer months, especially for the elderly and the very young.

“Heat exposure can be life-threatening.”
Professor and chair of emergency medicine
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Risk of Dehydration is Emphasized

Robert F. McCormack, MD

“Heat is a risk for all, but especially at the extremes of age,” says McCormack, who is also president of UBMD Emergency Medicine

Dehydration is the primary risk.

“Heat exposure can be life-threatening,” he says. “Sweating helps people to shed heat. If someone is hot and stops sweating, gets confused or passes out, it is a medical emergency and an ambulance should be called.”

More Than 600 Heat-Related Deaths Each Year

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat-related illnesses — while preventable — are responsible for more than 600 deaths in the U.S. each year. Others at greatest risk are people with certain chronic conditions, such as obesity.

To help the vulnerable beat oppressive heat and humidity, McCormack offers the following five tips:

  1. Make sure elderly people remain in the shade or in the coolest area of the house or the apartment. Ensure that they drink plenty of water and have access to a fan or air conditioning unit.
  2. Remember that many medications can put older people at greater risk.
  3. Check frequently on elderly family members and friends.
  4. Make sure children stay hydrated and that they take breaks from the sun and cool off frequently.
  5. Beware of alcohol. It has a dehydrating effect and makes people less aware of the risks and effects of extreme heat.