It’s been a hot few days. Heat indices in the Cape Fear Region have been over a hundred degrees most of the week. Summer doesn't officially begin until Thursday. People still tend to underestimate the effects heat can have on a person.
“NHRMC Urgent Care, How Can I Help You?”
This week the calls were more frequent at urgent care centers in the region, as heat indexes hovered around 100 degrees and higher. Medical professionals say people still ignore the risks of high heat.
“Absolutely. Especially during the beginning parts of the spring or summer, with the first real hot episodes.”
Benjamin Pellegrin is a nurse practitioner at New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Urgent Care, on Military Cutoff Road.
“I think people definitely underestimate how hot it is and how sick we can get from it. Those that are most vulnerable would be infants, children, elderly patients and those with underlying medical conditions like high blood pressure or heart disease.”
This time of year, 90 degrees may not sound all that hot. But then … you factor in the heat index.
Steven Pfaff is a Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington. He says the heat index reflects the humidity and the temperature.
“…and basically it's a gauge that lets us know how efficiently your body can cool. So if you have a dry environment and your body's trying to cool off, it's easier. And that case versus a very humid environment with hot temperatures, it’s just not as efficient, which puts us, puts us at risk for heat related illnesses.”
They include heat-related illnesses like heat stroke, muscle cramping, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, fainting, headaches, nausea and vomiting.
They can be very serious. And they can kill.
Again Steven Pfaff.
“Overall heat in the nation is the number one weather related killer. Most people don't realize. They think it's tornadoes or hurricanes, but we can have significant heat outbreaks and part of the country where people aren't prepared or acclimated. Like we are here.”
But being prepared for it, doesn’t mean everyone shouldn’t take extra precautions. Especially the elderly, the young, and those who are ill.
Pellegrin advises wearing loose fitting clothing hats and scheduling activity at the beginning or the end of the day when it's cooler. And of course, cars heat up fast, so don’t leave children or pets in the car. Summer has only just begun.