UMC medical director offers tips to stay safe in the heat - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

UMC medical director offers tips to stay safe in the heat

Pictured: M.D. Christopher Piel, medical director for the UMC Emergency Room Pictured: M.D. Christopher Piel, medical director for the UMC Emergency Room

The weather around the South Plains is heating up, and while that's good news for many, those who are eager to head outside still need to be concerned about their safety.

M.D. Christopher Piel, medical director for the UMC Emergency Room, offered a few safety tips to follow when it comes to the approaching summer heat.

"When we have changes in temperature," Piel said, "either heat or cold, it takes a while to acclimate to that temperature. And so even though it's pretty outside and you want to rush outside, when it really gets warm like this it's good to limit your activities for a while until you acclimate to the heat." 

"For people who have medical problems, it becomes an issue as well," he said, "because people that are on certain medications, when they're exposed to heat they may get dehydrated quicker or succumb to the effects of the heat quicker, so it's important to look after those people as well."

Piel said the same acclimation period applies to children, and that it's important to keep them hydrated.

"I think that, certainly, water is necessary," he said, "but I think if they want to drink some sports drinks, as long as they're not the caffeinated type sports drinks, it's probably okay. Sun screen is incredibly important, and when you're younger, you don't look at it that way, but as you get older, that sun damage starts to take effect and so your risk of cancer and skin disease certainly goes up. So please, yes, use sunscreen and lather up the kids."

He said that it's also important not to leave a child or pet in the car, because the temperatures that rise inside the vehicle can soon turn deadly.

"The temperatures in a closed car, even with the windows cracked, can rise very quickly and become dangerous," he said. "And then the surfaces can get hot, and people can sustain burns in that manner as well, so please, don't put anyone in a car that's unattended."

If you do have to be outdoors, Piel offered some warning signs to watch out for.

"You'll typically start to stop sweating when you're out and you're doing something," he said, "and you're feeling fatigued, starting to feel thirsty, dizzy - those are late signs that you're already succumbing to the effects of heat, so it's important to stay on fluids earlier. So if you start to get confused, dizzy, feel weak, nauseated - those are signs that it's time to get back inside, get out of the heat and start to get hydrated once again."

He also suggested a few helpful tips people can use to beat the summer heat.

"Cover your skin with light clothing that's cool, light colored clothing," he said. "Use sunscreen, wear hats, cover your ears and your face, take frequent breaks so that you can cool down and you're don't have sustained exposure to the heat, and drink plenty of fluids to stay cool."

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