(WFRV) – Living in Wisconsin, it’s hard to imagine that summer months can provide just as many risks as their winter counterparts, but various heat-related illnesses can be just as dangerous if you aren’t aware of the symptoms.
The past two decades were the warmest on record for Wisconsin, and according to a report from the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts, statewide temperatures have warmed by 3-degrees Fahrenheit and precipitation has increased 17% since 1950.
With the rise in temperatures, it can be helpful to know about tips and tricks to beat the heat, as well as the difference between the two most severe heat-related illnesses; heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Extreme heat events cause elevated levels of heat stress, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion. If you are outside enjoying the nice weather, it is important to remember that anyone of any age is at risk. However, older adults, young children, and people who are overweight are even more threatened.
Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses excessive amounts of water, typically from sweating, and heat stroke occurs when your body is unable to control its internal temperature.
According to Wisconsin Emergency Management, if you are or think you are suffering from a heat stroke, it is important not to drink fluids. Instead, you should try and cool your body down in different ways.
“Initially if somebody is really thirsty but they are still making sense and not confused, generally speaking, drinking fluids, taking a cold shower, or using a cold compress will get their temperature down pretty quick,” said Kyle McCarty, MD, the Medical Director of the Emergency Department at St. Vincent and St. Mary’s hospitals. “However, if somebody is at the point where they are confused or unresponsive, just call 911.”
Signs of Heat Exhaustion
- Heavy sweating
- Cold, pale, and clammy skin
- Fast, weak pulse
- Muscle cramps
- Tiredness or weakness
Signs of Heat Stroke
- High body temperature (over 103 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Red, hot, and dry skin
- Not sweating
- Rapid, strong pulse
- Chest pains or shortness of breath
- Dizziness, confusion, or unconsciousness
Car Heat Dangers
On an 80-degree Fahrenheit day, temperatures in a vehicle parked in direct sunlight can climb almost 20 degrees in just 10 minutes.
According to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, leaving windows cracked does not significantly slow the heating process or decrease the maximum temperature inside the vehicle.
Wisconsin is also one of several states that allows anyone to rescue children and pets from a hot car, as part of the Good Samaritan law.
The law was established to protect someone with good intentions from being held responsible for breaking a window in order to save a life. The Green Bay Police Department reminded residents of how to handle these incidents back in May.
“It’s really important to keep in mind small children, elderly individuals, individuals that can’t take care of themselves, and pets. They are not going to know their own warning signs for when they’re getting into trouble, so it’s on the rest of us to keep an eye out for them,” said McCarty.
For a full list of warning signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses, click here.
For more information on the dangers of car heat, click here.