Summer in Central Texas brings a rise in heat-related illness, according to Katelyn Vinklarek, Administrative Director of Post Acute Services for Hill Country Memorial. She offers some common-sense guidelines to keep extreme heat from ruining a weekend or worse.

“The rule of thumb for ‘extreme heat’ is any exposure to 100-plus-degree temperatures for more than 30 minutes,” Vinklarek said.

That is not an uncommon occurrence during typical Texas summers, and can especially affect certain age groups.

“We often think about heat-related illnesses when it comes to children,” she said. “But it’s just as important to recognize the signs or symptoms in our elderly family members or loved ones. Many times, they get overlooked in this area.”

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirms those at greatest risk of heat-related illness are infants and children up to age 4 and people aged 65 and older. Excessive weight, high blood pressure, and drug interaction are also contributing factors.

The CDC has issued guidelines to recognize and treat the different types of heat-related issues, including heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and sun rash.

Heat Stroke
Heatstroke is a serious condition that occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. It can cause disability or even death if not treated.

Signs To Watch For:
Extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
Red, hot, and dry skin, with no sweating
Rapid, strong pulse
Throbbing headache

Steps To Take:
Call 9-1-1 for immediate medical assistance
Cool the victim-
-move to a shady area
-immerse, shower, or sponge the victim in cool water

Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion can develop after long exposure to high temperatures and inadequate replacement of fluids.

Signs To Watch For:
Heavy sweating
Muscle cramps
Nausea or vomiting

Steps to Take:
Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages.
Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath
Seek an air-conditioned environment
Change to lighter weight clothing

Heat Cramps
People who sweat a lot during strenuous activity can experience a depletion of body salt and moisture, developing cramps.

Signs To Watch For:
Muscle cramps, spasms, or pain in limbs or abdomen

Steps To Take:
Stop all activity and sit quietly in a cool place
Drink clear juice or a sports beverage
Do not return to strenuous activity for a few hours

Heat Rash
Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather, most common in young children.

Signs To Watch For:
Red clusters of pimples or small blisters, usually in the neck, chest, groin, and elbow creases

Steps To Take:
Move the child to a cooler, dryer place
Applying powder may increase comfort

In all cases of heat-related illness, seek medical attention if conditions do not improve. HCM provides an Immediate Care Clinic in Fredericksburg, located at 1031 South State Highway 16, (830) 992-2820. Emergency Care is located at 1020 South State Highway 16 and can be reached by dialing 9-1-1.

The best prevention is using common sense, according to Vinklarek. Those steps include limiting outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day, wearing light, reflective clothing, using sunscreen, and always drinking plenty of non-alcoholic fluids.

With common-sense precautions, everyone can enjoy the summer in the south, no matter how long or how hot.

Hill Country Memorial is partnering with the City of Fredericksburg and host sites of H-E-B, Marketplotz, Enchanted Rock and Walmart to conduct a series of public demonstrations of the danger of leaving people and pets inside vehicles during hot summer days. During a relatively mild 84-degree summer day, for example, temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach 140 degrees and higher. This level can be fatal, and can damage other items left unattended, even in as little time as one minute.