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Atrium Health Navicent Offers Tips for Staying Safe in the Heat this Summer

As temperatures begin to soar, it is important to remember that summertime in the Southeast means everyone is at risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Atrium Health Navicent physicians urge individuals of all ages to be mindful of heat-related illnesses that can be prevented with proper caution and care, especially when exercising outside.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 700 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year and there are about 67,500 emergency department visits due to heat. Heat exhaustion is a severe reaction to heat exposure. Signs include weakness, dizziness, nausea, headache, and finally, collapse. The skin becomes cold and clammy while pupils dilate, and body temperature and blood pressure become lower.

At the first sign of heat exhaustion, get out of the heat, rest and drink water. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke. Signs include confusion and lethargy, lack of perspiration, high body temperature and seizure. Heat stroke is a medical emergency that can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles, and possibly lead to death.

Even for people who are used to exercising or working outside, heat exhaustion can sneak up quickly when high temperatures and high humidity collide.

“Start slowly and limit the amount of time you exercise outside until you are used to the climate. Drink fluids before you go outside and carry fluids with you to drink during exercise. Take the time to get acclimated to the temperature and humidity that day, especially if you’ve recently moved here from a cooler climate or you aren’t used to exercising outside,” said Dr. Harry Strothers, chief of Family Medicine at Atrium Health Navicent Primary Care West Macon.

Frequently, the people most at risk for heat-related illness are young people, who have plenty of energy and don’t notice that they are having a problem until it’s too late, and older people, whose bodies can’t compensate for the heat or who may have underlying medical problems.

Physicians at Atrium Health Navicent offer these tips to prevent heat related illnesses:

• Remain indoors during the hottest parts of the day, generally 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Stay hydrated by drinking water and sports drinks, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

• Wear proper clothing in the heat. Good options include loose-fitting clothing, which allows perspiration to evaporate, and light colors, which reflect the sun’s rays. Wear a wide-brimmed hat so that your head and face are shaded from the sun.

• Reduce outdoor exercise during high temperatures, and consider exercising during the early morning when temperatures are cooler.

• Take frequent breaks inside or in a shady spot.

• Wear sunscreen to prevent sunburns, which can raise body temperature.

• Don’t leave children or the elderly unattended in hot cars, even for short periods of time.

• Monitor yourself and your family for any signs of heat exhaustion. If you are feeling overheated or a loved-one is behaving oddly, speak up! If heat-related illness does occur, seek appropriate medical treatment.

For emergency situations, call 911 or seek care at the nearest emergency center. Atrium Health Navicent offers emergency care at the following locations:

• Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center (770 Pine St., Macon)

• Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital (888 Pine St., Macon)

• Atrium Health Navicent Peach (1960 Hwy 247 Connector, Byron)

• Atrium Health Navicent Baldwin (821 North Cobb St., Milledgeville)

• Monroe County Hospital, Atrium Health Navicent Partner (88 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Forsyth)

• Putnam General Hospital, Atrium Health Navicent Partner (101 Greensboro Road, Eatonton)

For non-life-threatening injuries, visit your nearest urgent care provider. Atrium Health Navicent provides urgent care at three Macon locations:

• Atrium Health Navicent Urgent Care North (3400 Riverside Drive, Macon)

• Atrium Health Navicent Urgent Care East (1339 Gray Highway, Macon)

• Atrium Health Navicent Urgent Care Northwest (5925 Zebulon Road, Macon)

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of health care in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent is part of Advocate Health, which is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is the fifth-largest nonprofit health system in the United States, created from the combination of Atrium Health and Advocate Aurora Health. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit www.NavicentHealth.org.