How to avoid heat-related illness during the heat wave in Northern California

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Emergency rooms typically see an increase in patients with heat-related illnesses during heat waves.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Northern California residents are in the midst of their first heat wave of the season. The triple-digit heat, amid an excessive heat warning, could put people at risk of heat-related illness.

Kaiser Permanente Emergency Department Chief Andrew Elms said during heat waves, they typically see an increase in heat-related illnesses, so it is important to stay hydrated. 

He said the elderly, infants and toddlers are more at risk of heat-related illness.

“Dehydration can then turn into heat exhaustion and then that can turn into heat stroke. Heat stroke is definitely the most concerning heat-related illness, because that’s when people start to have neurologic symptoms, so confusion, altered mental status,” Dr. Elms said.

He said people should avoid being outside during the peak hours of the day between 10 a.m. to 4-5 p.m. He also said if you’re going to exercise, do it earlier or later in the day than peak hours. Most importantly, he said bring water with you, if you’re going to be outdoors.

If you start to feel sick, you might be wondering when it’s necessary to go to the hospital.

“If you’re confused or altered in any way, that’s definitely something we need to see you in,” said Dr. Elms, as those can be signs of heat stroke. “But also too, part of it is, are you responding to treatment? If you’re in a hot area and you go to a cool area and now you’re hydrating and you’re having improvement in your symptoms, you might not necessarily need emergency level care.”

Ultimately, Dr. Elms said if you’re concerned you might have a heat-related illness, call 911, and they can help determine the best level of care for you.

Sacramento Fire Department is also prepared for the heat wave; they have extra IV bags on their rigs for when they encounter patients with dehydration.

As fire crews continue to work during the triple-digit heat, Sacramento Fire Captain Justin Sylvia said they are reminded to stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes.

“We really stress to our crew members that they need to hydrate the night before, or even two nights before, coming into work and also stay hydrated during their entire shift,” he said.

It’s just one of the heat-related illnesses doctors and emergency rooms are also prepared for.

Before the temperatures climbed Tuesday morning, ABC10 found joggers getting in an early run at McKinley Park and dog walkers finding shaded spots. 

Mother Claire Garrett took her three kids to the park early in the day to avoid the heat.

“Trying to get some energy out before it gets too hot to go outside,” she said. “4, 5, 6 o’clock. Absolutely not, we do not go outside.”

With even hotter temperatures Wednesday and three days in the triple digits this week, locals are readying their summer arsenal.

“Sunscreen, huge thing, even when you’re in the shade,” Garrett said. “A lot of ice water and popsicles.”

To learn more about the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness, click here for guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To learn more about how to stay hydrated, click here for tips from the American Heart Association.

California Excessive Heat Warning: Preventing hot car deaths

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.