Preventing heat injury can save your life

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It’s the time of year that raises the risk of heat injury as the temperatures rise.

Experts in the medical field and those who work jobs that put them at high risk for heat-related illness say prevention is the best medicine.

When the mercury climbs above ninety many people who work outside, like these roofers, can feel the heat quite literally. 

Charles Tyson, owner of American Roofing in Savannah, says he witnessed heat illness victims early in his career before he had his own crew.

“I used to work with my uncle, he had a roofing company in Hilton Head. [I saw] a lot of people get a lot of heat strokes, a lot of heat strokes,” said Tyson.

He shared his protocols for his workers to prevent heat injuries: hydrate, take frequent breaks and reduce your activity during the hottest hours of the day.

Tyson’s advice is the same as the medical community when it comes to preventing heat injuries.

Doctors say there are two segments of the population at the most risk for a heat injury. 

News 3 spoke with emergency room physicians, Jeffery Kenney and John Rowlett with St. Joseph’s Hospital in Savannah, who say there are two segments of the population at most risk for a heat injury.

“Infants and children’s bodies haven’t learned to regulate temperatures yet.  Elderly people have issues with being on medications that can decrease your ability to sweat or cool your body… and a lot of times they don’t have access to air conditioning,” Dr. Kenney said.

Dr. Rowlett says that if the victim moves into heat stroke, treatment must be delivered immediately.

“The most important thing to do for someone in that setting is to get them out of the hot environment. If they have hot, wet clothes you need to get dry clothes on people, get them to take fluids if they can, and if they can’t take fluids then they need to come and see us,” Rowlett said.

Dr. Kenney says that heat illness is progressive and if it’s left unchecked, it can be a life and death situation.

Heat illness begins with profuse sweating and progresses to heat cramps in your muscles.

The next stage is heat exhaustion, with nausea and vomiting. It’s when the sweat stops when the worst stage of heat illness begins: heat stroke.

It can be lethal without treatment in an emergency room.  

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