Emergency room visits spike in Fresno during heat wave

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The Fresno County Health Department says there was a significant increase in emergency room visits for heat-related illnesses during last week's triple-digit heat. (KFSN)

The Fresno County Health Department says there was a significant increase in emergency room visits for heat-related illnesses during last week's triple-digit heat.

Children, senior citizens and anyone who works out in the sun are in great danger from the Central Valley's extreme heat, but there are measures we can all take to stay safe.

The first heat wave of the summer delivered record-breaking temperatures across the Valley, and it increased the number of emergency room visits and calls for ambulances due to heat-related illnesses.

David Luchini with the Fresno County Health Department says most of those cases were with senior citizens, children and people who work in the heat and sun.

"Where they start feeling weak or a little light-headed or see an increase in blood pressure or pulse rate and sometimes they will have a heat rash," he said.

Luchini says people tend to forget what the heat can do when they are not hydrated. He says it is important to drink plenty of water before you head outside, especially if you will be working under the sun.

"So if you are going to be working outside, it is good to take two to four cups an hour because you will be using up a lot of your fluids when you are working out in the sun," Luchini explained.

Avoid drinking beverages with caffeine and alcohol. Those take fluids out of your body and make you dehydrated. Also, know the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Luchini says with heat exhaustion drink water immediately because you will notice signs of weakness and your body sweating more.

"But if you get to heat stroke where now your sweating has stopped, you can become semi-conscious, severe headaches and then you need to be careful taking down fluids because your body is in crisis mode," he said. "That's an immediate 911."

He also adds if you don't have air conditioning, take advantage of cooling centers in your area. And check up on your neighbors, especially those you have health problems they may also have trouble using or having access to air conditioning.

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