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Highland Lakes summers can be hellaciously hot, and as the temperature rises, so does the risk of heat-related illness.

“We get heat exhaustion calls weekly when the temperature is up like this,” Granite Shoals Fire Chief Tim Campbell told DailyTrib.com. “We had at least one heat-related death in Granite Shoals last summer (2023).”

Highland Lakes temperatures started creeping into the hundreds this past week. Current National Weather Service forecasts show Marble Falls highs hovering between 97 and 100 degrees from Friday, June 28, through Thursday, July 4.

The elderly are most at risk for heat exhaustion, Campbell said. 

The Granite Shoals resident who died last year was a senior citizen who had overheated in a camper with no air conditioning. Firefighters made it to the scene before she passed away, but the damage had already been done.

“We submerged her in ice, but it was too late,” Campbell said.

The standard practice for managing overheating is to submerge the victim in ice to bring their core temperature down as quickly as possible, he said. Place ice packs in the armpits, around the neck, and near the groin.

Signs of excessive overheating include headache, fainting, lack of sweat, rapid pulse, and confusion. If a person is staggering or seems loopy, seek immediate medical attention.

In Campbell’s experience, overheating typically happens earlier in the day as people try to complete outdoor work or activities before it gets too hot. 

While morning temperatures are lower, higher humidity and other environmental factors can raise the heat index, making it feel much hotter to the human body.

“(Many victims of overheating) are doing something they do all the time, like working in their garage or mowing the lawns,” Campbell said. “They try to get out there early in the morning to finish work, but it’s deceptive.”

The elderly are not the only ones vulnerable to overheating. Granite Shoals firefighters responded to Camp Champions in 2023 after two teens lost consciousness while playing basketball. Both made full recoveries thanks to rapid ice-downs.

“We are in the heart of summer now here in Texas, and everyone needs to familiarize themselves with safety measures to prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths,” Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said in a media release. “Implementing simple principles can be the difference between life or death this summer for Texans.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1,200 Americans die from extreme heat every year.

  • The DPS offered the following facts, figures, and tips regarding heat-related illness:
  • On a 90-degree day, the temperature inside a vehicle can rise above 130 degrees in less than 30 minutes.
  • The bodies of small children and pets can heat up three to five times faster than the average adult’s body.
  • Asphalt can reach 140 degrees on an 85-degree day.
  • Hydrate before spending time outdoors in excessive heat.
  • Avoid consuming large amounts of alcohol and caffeine. Both are diuretics that can lead to dehydration.
  • Avoid extensive outdoor activity between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on the hottest days of summer.
  • Never leave children or pets unattended in a vehicle in the summer, even with the windows rolled down. Always take them with you, no matter how short the errand.
  • If you see a child alone in a car in the heat, act quickly and call 9-1-1. Quick intervention can save lives.
  • Vehicle batteries and engines may not function efficiently in extreme heat. Park in the shade if possible.
  • Keep an emergency kit in your car, including drinking water, jumper cables, and an external battery to charge your cellphone, in the event you break down in a remote location in extreme heat.

dakota@thepicayune.com

1 thought on “Extreme heat risks and lifesaving ice

  1. The point of using ice for cooling is to cool the blood going to the brain quickly. Placing ice at the 8 major artery points (7 and 8 are behind the knees) cools the blood quickly. If the brain is cooled the other organs will begin to respond appropriately. Proper hydration is always critical to good health, but more so in hotter weather. Howerver, if you know you will be exposed to more outdoor activity than normal, it’s a good idea to increase your normal water consumption the day before the anticipated activity to enhance your body’s response to the heat.

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