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Health warning worth repeating as summer temperatures arrive across Kansas

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 5:46 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - In an average year, extreme heat is responsible for more weather-related deaths in the U.S. than any other hazard. As temperatures rise above 90, so does the risk of heat-related medical issues, from severe sunburns, dehydration, cramps and heat exhaustion to heatstroke, which can be deadly.

“That’s when your body temperature gets really high, over 103 degrees. You get real hot, real red, real damp,” Ascension Via Christi St. Francis E.R. Director Dr. Howard Chang explained. “You have a very rapid pulse, probably from the dehydration and effects of heat on your body. Lightheaded, like you’re about to pass out.”

To prevent this, finding shade and staying hydrated while outside are crucial, as is taking breaks from the heat by going indoors. If you become confused or lose consciousness, you need to get medical help immediately.

“In those situations, you have to call 911 right away,” Chang said.

Heatstroke can also impact pets, especially ones with thick fur.

“Sometimes we can’t get ahead of it once that ball has started rolling,” Skaer Veterinary Clinic Veterinarian Dr. Danielle Estivo said.

Dr. Estivo said when it’s hot like what much Kansas is seeing this week with heat indexes approaching or surpassing 100 degrees, you shouldn’t leave your pets outdoors for long periods of time. And when they are outside, they need to have access to shade and water.

“Essentially it’s organ failure. When their temperature gets so high, their system starts shutting down internally,” Dr. Estivo said. The kidneys, GI track, there are several different organ systems that fail to work properly.

You should also never leave your pets in your car, vets say, even if the air conditioner is running.

“Sometimes it’s not always able to keep up with the temperature the dog is going to get. It’s like a little greenhouse,” Dr. Estivo explained.

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