Essentia Health Reminds People to take Precautions Ahead of Weekend Heatwave

(Fargo, ND) -- With excessive heat forecast for much of our region in the coming days, experts are urging caution.

Temperatures are expected to soar into the upper 90s and even reach 100 by Friday, creating conditions ripe for heat-related illness such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion. This is especially true given the time of year; typically, we don’t see this kind of weather until mid-summer, so the heat could catch people off-guard.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the following signs and symptoms for heat stroke: high body temperature (above 103 degrees); red, hot, dry skin (no sweating); rapid, strong pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; upset stomach; confusion; and passing out.

Additionally, the CDC highlights these signs and symptoms for heat exhaustion: heavy sweating; paleness; muscle cramps; tiredness; weakness; dizziness; headache; upset stomach or vomiting; and fainting.

Any of these warning signs should prompt you to seek immediate medical attention. If you’re caring for someone who is awaiting medical help, you can use several strategies to provide relief. For heat stroke, move the person to a shady area, but do not give him or her fluids. Use a cool — not cold — bath or shower, spray with a garden hose or sponge with cool water. You also can fan the person, with a goal of getting their body temperature below 102 degrees. Treatments for heat exhaustion include cool beverages; resting in an air-conditioned room; a cool bath or shower; and providing lightweight clothing.

Infants, young children, the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions are especially vulnerable amid excessive heat. It’s important to check on them and be proactive about ensuring their safety.

“It's important in these summer months to make sure you are not spending prolonged periods of time in direct sunlight. Be sure to drink plenty of water and pay attention to any warning signs of heat related illness,” said Jaclyn Hughley, a nurse practitioner at Essentia. “Heatstroke can kill or cause damage to the brain and other internal organs. While it mainly affects people over the age of 50, it can often impact young people as well.” 

A reminder that leaving children and pets in cars can be deadly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 52 children died of vehicular heatstroke in 2019. The NHTSA also reports the temperature in a vehicle with closed windows can increase by as much as 19 degrees in just ten minutes. They advise people to never leave a child or pet in the vehicle, even with the widows down, or part way down.

From 2004-2018, there were an average of 702 heat-related deaths in the United States annually, according to a CDC report.