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Staying safe in the heat

Protection as temperatures heat up is vital to staying healthy this summer, officials say.

Authorities are offering guidelines and safety tips to beat the heat. Dr. Joseph Nida, a physician at Minden Family Care Center, said the most common heat-related illnesses are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These can be prevented by doing a few things to stay cooler, he said.

“We start seeing them when people are exercising or active in the extreme heat and not really realizing how hot it is outside,” he said.

Hydration is very important and Nida suggested drinking water and sports drinks until thirst is slaked. The recommended amount of water each day is eight 8-ounce glasses, but it is different for everyone. Nida said water intake is dependant upon activity level and how much water is required for that person.

“It’s important to continually drink while they’re exercising or working,” he said. “It’s important that you keep sweating. If you ever stop sweating, that’s a bad sign. Follow your thirst, and it’s important to take breaks when you’re exercising or working outdoors.”

Doctors recommend people protect their skin with sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or greater. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and cover the head and neck area with a hat if possible. They also suggest staying in the shade as much as possible. To keep the body’s core temperature down, Nida recommended putting a cool, wet towel around the neck or under the armpits. This will allow the body’s core temperature to cool faster, he said.

When traveling or shopping, Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper said not to leave children or pets inside a vehicle, as it is twice as hot inside a vehicle than outdoor temperatures.

“If you have a child or a pet in your car, notify us,” he said. “We have emergency tools to unlock a vehicle, and we’ll come unlock it. If we can’t get it unlocked, we have ways to get into the vehicle.”

It is common for people to leave their children or pets inside a vehicle if they are going in “for a quick second. Never do that, Cropper said, because that quick second can turn into a longer period of time.

“That’s where you start to run into problems,” he said. “If the temperature is 80 degrees outside, the temperature in the vehicle is probably going to exceed 100 degrees. That temperature rises pretty quickly in a locked vehicle with the windows up.”

If someone is arrested for leaving a child in a locked vehicle, they could be charged with child neglect, Cropper said.
Nida said the most important thing to remember is hydration.

“Drink enough water that you aren’t thirsty anymore,” he said. “Drinking sports drinks, such as Gatorade or Powerade, in addition to water is important too, because the sports drinks have some sugar and a little bit of salt in them.”