How to stay safe when intense heat is part of your day

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s widespread and you can’t escape it if you’ve spent any amount of time outside in the last few days: this heavy heat. But Rory Carr found shade in central Sioux Falls on Monday.

“Well mainly I’ve been staying right by the air conditioner when it’s working properly and then also I do this, go to the park and sit in the shade and drink water and read my Kindle,” Carr said.

It’s a comfortable and, moreover, safe place to be. Avera Health emergency medicine physician Dr. Alan Sazama says that in, for example, 90 degree-conditions, heat exhaustion or heat stroke can begin to set in in 15 or 20 minutes.

“There’s other factors that can play in,” Sazama said. “What are you doing outside, is there exercise component, are you working landscaping, are you doing a sporting practice, what are you doing as far as what are you intaking, are you drinking alcohol. All of these sort of things can help us determine how long it’s going to be before you need to get out of the heat.”

Sazama says our bodies send us signals.

“Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are not necessarily different, but heat stroke is a worse version of heat exhaustion,” Sazama said. “So your body sends out different warning signs to you the longer you’re out in the heat, giving you the chance to say, ‘Hey, I need to get out of this, I need to drink water, get in the shade,’ etcetera.”

Signs include dizziness, muscle cramps and excess sweating. You can also keep an eye on other people.

“If you start to notice somebody who’s not acting right, seems very confused, who seems like their mental status is not where it should be, that’s a sign of heat stroke, and again that’s a life-threatening emergency,” Sazama said.

And feel isn’t the end-all, be-all indicator.

“The last couple days in Sioux Falls, it’s been very, very windy, and I feel like when you’re outside, it doesn’t feel necessarily like 100 degrees outside, because the wind kind of cools us off a little bit,” Sazama said. “That doesn’t make it any less dangerous to be outside for prolonged periods in the direct sun.”

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