By Lexington Coroner Margaret Fisher

It’s not just uncomfortable outside – it’s dangerous. We haven’t reached the hottest days of the season, and there is already a very real threat of serious illness and/or death related to the heat and humidity. There are several factors that can make an individual more susceptible to heat-related issues. Conditions, in addition to temperature, such as humidity and location, impact the level of danger.

People who are at the greatest risk for heat-related illnesses and death include: infants and young children, the elderly, people who are socially isolated, those who are overweight, and individuals with existing medical conditions. For instance, diabetes, and heart and respiratory diseases can be exacerbated by heat exposure. Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable; however, more than 600 deaths are attributed to heat in the United States every year.

It is not sweating, but the evaporation of sweat that is essential to the body’s natural cooling ability. High relative humidity prevents adequate evaporation, causing body temperature to reach dangerous levels. Some medications may inhibit sweating, so it’s important to know the side effects of anything you are taking. Also, men, because they tend to sweat more profusely, are at greater of heat illness due to rapid dehydration. One of the most important safety measures during extreme heat is to drink plenty of fluids – stay away from drinks that contain alcohol or high levels of sugar. Another important thing to remember is that salt and minerals, removed from the body by sweating, need to be replenished.

Other keys to safely surviving this summer include: adequate air-conditioning; wearing lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing; scheduling outdoor activities for the coolest times of day; and taking frequent breaks in shady or cool areas if you have to be outside. Remember to check on any neighbors and family members who may be at higher risk due to age and/or illness.

Please seek medical help immediately if you or someone else experiences the following symptoms: nausea; loss of consciousness; high body temperature (103 degrees F or above); hot, red, dry, or damp skin; headache; muscle pain or spasms lasting longer than 1 hour; dizziness; confusion; and/or fast, strong pulse.

On another note, to keep you abreast of what has happened in Lexington County so far this year, here are the numbers of certain types of deaths that have occurred: 7 homicides, 17 suicides, 21 accidental overdoses, and 21 deaths due to motor vehicle collisions. These are the confirmed numbers of deaths due to those particular manners and/or causes as of June 1, 2019. Please remember to make safety a priority, and seek appropriate help for yourself or anyone else in need.

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