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How you can stay safe in the summer heat

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW)- While many head outside to enjoy warm weather, officials are warning residents that the summer heat can also be dangerous.

According to UW Health's Pediatric Injury Prevention Program Manager Dr. Jim Savage, during this time of year, individuals can overheat fairly quickly. This in turn can lead to heatstroke, causing dizziness, muscle cramps, weakness, and more.

In some cases, exposure to the heat can be fatal. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows seven people died, 689 residents went to emergency departments, and another 67 were hospitalized due to over-exposure last year in Wisconsin alone.

Of these, emergency department visits were highest among those aged 15 to 34 years old, with hospitalizations most frequent among those aged 65 and older. To help avoid this, Dr. Savage suggests residents limit the amount of time they spend outside during the hottest parts of the day.

Instead, he encourages the community to participate in outdoor activities in the mornings and evenings when temperatures are a little cooler. Savage stated if individuals must be outside during the day, one of the best things they can do is stay hydrated.

"If you do need to be out in the heat, probably the best thing to do is drink a lot of water to stay hydrated," said Dr. Savage. "That's going to help control your body temperature and also help avoid heatstroke."

Experts said residents can also avoid alcohol and heavy meals, as well as take a cool shower to help bring body temperatures down quickly.

Dr. Savage encouraged community members to check on neighbors and loved ones that do not have air conditioning during these summer months.

"If you can, offer to maybe bring them to your home for a few hours where it might be cooler," said Dr. Savage.

Additionally, he warned vehicle temperatures can get hot very quickly, sometimes rising to deadly temperatures. Dr. Savage explained simply cracking the car's windows usually does not help reduce the heat very much.

As such, he suggested if residents are taking a quick trip to the store or running other errands this summer, they consider leaving kids and pets at home rather than in the car.

According to Dr. Savage, about 39 children die each year as a result of being inside hot vehicles. Of these, some were accidentally left in the vehicle, while others got into unlocked vehicles and could not get out.

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Grace Gilles

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