Beating the heat

Nathaniel Cockerham plays in the mud along the Ararat River to stay cool.

Enjoying a day on the Ararat River, and keeping cool in the process, are, from left, Breana, Nathaniel, Jordan and Makayla Cockerham.

Temperatures are rising and so are the number of heat-related illnesses reported locally, according to Dr. Casey Davis with Northern Hospital of Surry County.

“We have evaluated multiple patients in the past sevens days in our emergency department with heat related illnesses,” she said.

Heat rash, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are all conditions that can evolve from the summer temperatures, with the latter two conditions raising the most concern.

Although each condition can affect people of all ages, the elderly, people with chronic conditions, outdoor and factory workers, low-income families who cannot afford air conditioning and youth athletes are the most at risk.

Symptoms of heat stroke include nausea, dizziness, low blood pressure, and pale complexion.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include cool, moist skin and goose bumps, along with faintness, dizziness and muscle cramps.

Symptoms of heat rash include red bumps, itchy skin, and minimal perspiration on the affected area. Heat rash most commonly affects infants.

Deborah Moser registered nurse who has worked with Northern Hospital for 36 years, advises people not to rely on fans as an only source of cooling. Moser also advises individuals not to not wait until they are thirsty to drink water.

“The most important thing is to stay hydrated. It is vitally importantly to drink more fluids in this kind of heat than other times of the year,” Davis said. “Folks should limit their time outdoors and if you must be outdoors be aware you will dehydrate much faster with the heat, humidity and sun as all are much more dangerous in this … heat we are experiencing. Try to keep your home as cool as possible whether it be with fans or air conditioning,” Davis said.

The doctor also added “Don’t forget your pets. Be sure your pets and animals have access to clean, cool water, and shelter from the sun. They are vulnerable in this extreme heat as well.”

Pet owners are urged to never leave animals in a parked car. Providing adequate shade and water to pets.

Catrina Alexander, director of Reeves Community Center, said that they “encourage all employees who work outside to drink plenty of water, use sunscreen and utilize the protection equipment proved to them.”

Alexander also said that Michella Huff, manager for the landscaping and grounds maintenance for the city, has adjusted hours so that the workers can utilize the cooler morning hours.

Moser offered a few additional tips to deal with the heat: regularly apply sunscreen, wear light-loose fitting clothing, check with you supervisor to schedule more frequent indoor breaks.

Eva Queen can be reached at (336) 415-4739 or