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franklin county times

Doctors: Don't let heat sneak up

By Staff
SMALL BUSINESS n Two young entrepreneurs took advantage of the weather Sunday and opened a lemonade stand at Northwood Country Club. Golfers Scott Morgan, left, and Joel Mabry competing in the Bill Davis Memorial Fourth of July Invitational were happy to find them at the 6th tee. Sumner Brown, left, is shown pouring a cup of lemonade as her partner, Kristin Nicholson, looks on. Photo by Carissa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
July 2, 2001
The mild temperatures we've enjoyed so far this summer could make it easier for heat-related illnesses to sneak up on us.
The South is the region of choice for heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The reason, as the old saying goes, "It's not so much the heat as the humidity."
Humidity makes it more difficult for sweat to evaporate. Sweat is the primary way our bodies get rid of extra heat. Blood flow to the skin helps move heat within our bodies to skin surfaces. When the sweat evaporates, it helps to cool us.
When we sweat, we lose water. Dehydration makes it more difficult for our bodies to cool because it decreases the ability to sweat and less blood is pumped to the skin.
When it happens
Fisher says alcohol consumption is a significant factor in heat-related illness, especially around holidays like the Fourth of July.
A person who has had too much to drink will dehydrate and may not be aware of the danger signs associated with heat. The sufferer's heat stroke symptoms may be mistaken for inebriation.
For 16 years, Fisher worked as an emergency room physician. He says heat can be fatal.
According to Andy Jones, a battalion chief with the Meridian Fire Department, most heat-related emergency calls are to homes of elderly people whose homes are not air-conditioned. Jones said they can overheat before they realize it.
Other heat-related emergency calls typically involve someone doing heavy outdoor work in the heat of the day.
Best defense
Myrtle Seals, a Meridian parking enforcement officer, is well acquainted with heat. She walks her downtown beat from Sixth Street to 10th Street, and from 23rd Avenue to 20th Avenue, four times a day. Except for her lunch hour, she is in the sun from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily and she has been doing it for nearly eight years.
She said people should know how much sun they can stand and put more fluids into their bodies because they will lose more in the heat. Protective sun screen is also a must, she said.
Seals said the average person probably wouldn't be able to do what she does every day until they got used to it. She recalled two years ago being a particularly sweltering summer.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at sgillespie@themeridianstar.com.