Staying safe during extreme heat

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 4:50 PM CDT
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) - Temperatures in the Coulee Region were in the mid to upper 90s all weekend, with this week expected to be just as hot.

According to the National Weather Service, about five people in Wisconsin die each summer when heat was the primary cause of death.

Gundersen Health System Injury Prevention Specialist Megan Anderson says extreme changes in temperature can leave people more susceptible to health issues.

“Especially when it starts to get hotter outside and our bodies are not used to it we’re all a little bit more at-risk for heat-related illness,” Anderson said.

Those illnesses include heat exhaustion or heat stroke, both of which have clear symptoms to watch out for.

“You start to really sweat a lot, maybe you feel al little bit dizzy, headache, maybe some nausea,” Anderson described. “Some symptoms of heat stroke is if you start to have rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, vomiting, confusion.”

Anderson recommends not staying out in the heat for an extended period of time, saying going inside and turning on your air conditioning is a great way to cool off.

To make sure your air conditioning unit is working property, Carson Schneider with Schneider Heating & Air Conditioning lists a few things to check.

“A lot of people will turn their breaker off when they stop using their air conditioner, so a really simple thing that sometimes people forget is just to turn your breaker back on,” Schneider said. “Past that, just turn your thermostat down and turn it into cooling mode and if it’s working, great, but there’s not too much that you can do past that.”

Schneider Heating & Air Conditioning has been staying very busy since the weather warmed up, and this week is no exception.

“It’s a little chaotic, and our service techs will be working pretty late tonight trying to make sure that we get to all of our customers,” Schneider said. “If we can’t fix the problem entirely, what we’ll do is just try to get you temporary cooling until we can get back when it gets a little slower.”

In addition to sitting inside an air conditioned room, Anderson says there are other best practices for staying safe during extreme heat.

“You want to avoid strenuous physical activity, maybe hard yard work, in the middle of the day when it’s hottest,” Anderson said. “Making sure you’re drinking a lot of water, more than you’re used to, and staying hydrated when it’s hot outside.”

She adds that younger children and older adults need to be especially careful as they are more at-risk for heat-related illnesses.

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