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Protecting yourself and your family from heat exhaustion or heat stroke

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KVIA) -- Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be life-threatening if left untreated. Dr. Kristopher Crawford, the Director of Emergency Services at MountainView Regional Medical Center, appeared today on ABC-7 at 4 with Mark Ross to talk about heat illnesses.

"We have a real problem here, not just those temperatures, but it's also important to remember that we all live at a relatively high altitude, which means that we push off more fluids even though you feel like you're drinking a lot," explained Dr. Crawford. "There's a lot of fluid going back out into the environment through your breath and through your sweat. And so that makes these times really challenging for folks who live both in a hot environment and at a high altitude."

Dr. Crawford then explained the differences between heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

"The first thing you would get into is heat cramps, and I think that's pretty self explanatory. You're out in the heat. You start having cramps in your muscles. This is your body warning you. Heat exhaustion, is whenever you haven't had enough fluid or sweat off too much fluid, and then you're gonna have some, you're gonna have a lot of sweating. You're gonna have you're gonna feel like you're panting and you're gonna feel like no matter what you do, you know your heart rates a little fast and you just feel a little faint. That's when the Red Alert is going off and then we end up with if you don't follow your body's guidance at that point, you can end up with heatstroke, where despite your body's best efforts, your skin becomes dry, you become faint, you can pass out. People can and do die of heatstroke here."

What can you do to avoid heat illnesses? Follow these tips:

  • Cover up: When outside, wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing, hats, sunglasses, and broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least 15 (but 30 to 50 SPF is better) to protect against sunburn, affecting the body’s ability to cool down.
  • Keep cool: When the temperature is up, take cool showers, swim, or apply wet towels on the neck or forehead to help lower body temperature. 
  • Hydrate: Drink fluids, especially water, throughout the day, to stay hydrated. Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeine, which can contribute to dehydration.
  • Stay in the shade: Stay in shaded areas or indoors during the hottest parts of the day, usually between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Rest often: If working outside or participating in outdoor activities, make it a point to take regular breaks to cool down in a shaded area where you can rest and rehydrate
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Mark Ross

Mark Ross is the anchor and producer for ABC-7 at 4.

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