Breckenridge Texan

SMH offers tips for preventing heat-related illness as heat wave continues

SMH offers tips for preventing heat-related illness as heat wave continues
July 29
10:52 2023

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

With weather forecasts predicting at least two more weeks (and likely more) of 100-plus degree days, Stephens Memorial Hospital recently posted a video with tips for staying safe and healthy during the heat wave.

Stephenie Walker and Rhonda Manning with SMH said there are three types of heat illnesses — Heat Cramps, Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke — ranging from mild to severe. The cause of heat illnesses is exposure to high temperatures. Additionally, high humidity makes it worse, they said.

They described the possible symptoms of heat exhaustion — excessive sweating, high heart rate, nausea, vomiting, paleness, dizziness, fatigue, weakness, fainting — and explained that every person suffering from heat exhaustion might not have every symptom. Quick action is necessary if you do have symptoms of heat exhaustion.

“When you get sick, without fast treatment, it can rapidly progress to heat stroke, and that is always a life-threatening illness,” Walker said.

To prevent heat-related illnesses, Walker and Manning offer the following advice:

  • When possible, stay cool indoors in an air-conditioned area.
  • If you don’t have an air conditioner, you can take other measures to stay cool, including taking cool showers or cool baths;
  • Avoid using your stovetop or oven, which generate more heat;
  • Try to avoid unnecessary outdoor activities;
  • If you do have to go outside, try to schedule your activities for early morning or late evening to avoid the extreme heat of mid-day;
  • When outside, wear a wide-brimmed hat and use a cooling cloth on the back of your neck;
  • Take frequent breaks, preferably in the shade;
  • Drink plenty of fluids.

“If you work outdoors — our roofers, our oil field or construction people, pace yourself,” Manning said. “Drink plenty of fluids. Make sure your fluids don’t contain sugar or alcohol because those are going to cause your body to lose more fluids. Drink more than you usually do, and do not wait until you’re thirsty to drink. You’ll need to increase your daily fluid intake, regardless of your activity level.”

Anyone can be a victim of a heat-related illness, but there are some who are more susceptible, Walker said. Those include infants and young children, people who are age 65 or older, people who are overweight, people who work outside, people who over-exert when they’re exercising, and people who are chronically ill, especially those with heart disease, high blood pressure and poor circulation. Additionally, there are some medications that can make someone more prone to heat-related illnesses.

“Remember to check on your elderly family, friends, neighbors, and check on them frequently throughout the day,” Manning said. “And, never leave the elderly or young children (or pets) in a vehicle that’s not running, because just minutes in this hot, Texas heat can be fatal.”

You can watch the entire video at the end of this story.

Weather Forecast

The National Weather Service expects today’s high in Breckenridge to be 103 degrees, followed by six days with high temperatures ranging from 105 to 107. Tonight’s overnight low of 78 is the lowest temperature predicted all week.

Other weather services are showing the daytime highs to be at 100 degrees or higher for most of August and into September.

The NWS has issued a warning about the potential for heat-related illnesses through the upcoming week.

Drought and Fire Danger

In addition to causing heat-related illnesses, the high temperatures also are creating drought conditions and fire dangers.

The NWS issued a hazardous weather outlook for Stephens County and many other north- and central-Texas counties due to the elevated threat for wildfires today through next week.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Stephens County is divided, with the southern portion of the county designated as being in a “Moderate Drought” stage and the northern portion of the county in the “Abnormally Dry” stage. Some parts of the state, specifically in Central Texas, are in the “Extreme Drought” and “Exceptional Drought” stages.

About three weeks ago, the Stephens County Commissioners voted to reinstate a burn ban for the county, prohibiting outdoor burning. At their July 24 meeting, they decided to leave the burn ban in place.

Additionally, Hubbard Creek Reservoir is 58.9 percent full this morning. Last year at this time, the lake was 75 percent full. According to historical data at the website Water Data for Texas, the lake hasn’t been this low since it filled up in 2016, following a years-long drought.

The lake’s current elevation is at 1,173.65. That’s down from the 1,178.00 it was at last year, but still quite a bit above the record low of 1,151.90 that the lake dropped to in 2015. At that time, the lake was only 10 percent full.


Cutline, top photo: Stephenie Walker and Rhonda Manning with Stephens Memorial Hospital made a video offering tips for preventing heat-related illnesses. Check out the full video below, courtesy of Stephens Memorial Hospital.




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