Another heat wave in Cincinnati: 'It's very important that you don't push yourself'

Another heat wave in Cincinnati: 'It's very important that you don't push yourself'
Posted at 3:59 PM, Jul 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-03 15:59:30-04

CINCINNATI -- Don't wait. Hydrate.

That's the simplest advice anyone can take as the Tri-State enters yet another heat wave this summer.

Temperatures will rise to the mid-90s for the Fourth of July. With oppressive humidity in place, the heat index will be pushed as high as 107. Much of the Tri-State will be under an Excessive Heat Warning from noon until 8 p.m.

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Brian Huff, with Cincinnati Lawn Services, has no choice but to spend his days outdoors. And even on the hottest days, there's no day off.

"You get really dizzy, you get real weak, so it's very important that you don't push yourself," he said.

Huff has experienced heat-related illness firsthand: One day, he had to go home early because his body couldn't handle the temperatures anymore. 

Heat exhaustion can set in quickly. Symptoms include confusion, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, headache, cramping, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Dark-colored urine is a sign of dehydration.

"The main thing you really want to do is look out for your other crew members that are working with you. Look for symptoms that they might be having," Huff said. 

Medical experts say it's important to drink plenty of water and get into the shade during the hottest parts of the day, usually noon to 4 p.m.

They also recommend avoiding any intense physical activity, like exercise, in extreme heat and limiting how much alcohol you drink, which can worsen dehydration.

A prolonged stretch of hot weather, like Cincinnati has seen this week, can be especially dangerous. Temperatures don't cool off enough at night to give your body a break, which is why air conditioning is so important. But many homes and apartments in Cincinnati are old, so they don't have central air or window units.

Then factor in the urban heat island: Pavement, buildings and other structures bake in the sun, trapping the heat and radiating it back out.

Those conditions can be fatal when they don't relent for days on end. In Chicago, more than 700 people died when a heat wave gripped the city in 1995.

Normally, sweating would help reduce a person's body temperature. But when it's this humid, sweat doesn't evaporate, and so it doesn't cool people off as well. 

Those who are young and elderly are most at risk. The heat also can be risky for people who have trouble regulating their body temperature because of medications.

"You can develop these devastating neurological symptoms where they have trouble with speech, trouble with walking, develop weakness and have to require much more aggressive care," said Dr. David Henkel, an emergency room physicians.

If you don't have access to a cool place, Dr. Steven Englender with the Cincinnati Health Department recommends taking a cool bath or cool shower to bring down your core body temperature.