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Take Cover When Heat Is High

Get tips on how to prevent heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heatstroke.
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WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

This summer has been a scorcher in much of the nation, with temperatures soaring into the 90s from the western Plains to the East Coast.

What's Hot?

But the line on the thermometer is not the only way weathermen define heat. They have created a Heat Index, which combines heat and humidity to create a sort of 'misery index.' The temp may be 100 degrees, but combined with humidity (which inhibits sweat from evaporating off the skin and cooling the body), the Heat Index may climb into the danger zone at 105 degrees or higher.

By danger zone, they mean: danger of vomiting in public, collapsing, or even dying.

Who's Most Likely to Suffer?

According to the CDC, the elderly, children under 4, people who are overweight, those who become dehydrated, the mentally ill, or people with medical conditions, or who are on certain medications seem to be the most susceptible targets of a heat wave.

"You know who we see a lot?" asks Bruce Bonanno, MD, an emergency medicine physician in the New York and New Jersey areas. "We see young people coming in. One place I work is a beach community. They drink the night before and think their fancy little drinks are hydrating them, when they are doing the exact opposite. Then they go to the beach the next day, fall asleep, bake in the sun, and each day get a little more behind on their fluids. Eventually, they end up in the ER."

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