Weather forecasts have temperatures reaching the upper 90s, even 100 degrees, over the next few days, with a heat index in the triple digits. With temperatures this high, local emergency personnel are sharing words of precaution for anyone who must spend some time outside.
According to Eric Herring, operations chief with Sampson County Emergency Management, dehydration is the biggest obstacle that many people face during this time of year. The problem, he said, is that citizens don’t keep themselves hydrated ahead of the time they spend outside.
“You have to stay hydrated,” Herring admonished. “It’s important to drink plenty of fluids before activities, during activities and after activities.”
Herring cautioned — carbonated and caffeinated drinks aren’t the solution. Water, Gatorade and Powerade are the best choices when trying to keep the body hydrated and electrolytes replenished.
Many people get into trouble when they participate in activities outside and forget to drink anything before hand, and most especially afterwards. This, Herring said, causes many problems and can lead to heat exhaustion. When making yourself aware of the signs of heat exhaustion, Herring said to look for confusion and disorientation. Another warning sign of heat exhaustion, he added, is the lack of sweating.
“Once you stop sweating, there is a true emergency,” Herring said. “If these signs occur, call 911 immediately. It’s important to get out of the heat and cool off when these signs start happening. Just make sure emergency services is on the way.”
In the event of heat exhaustion, Herring said, placing a cool rag on the neck or groin area can assist someone with the cooling off process.
If someone does need to go outside, he advised, the best times of the day are early morning or late afternoon. From sun up to about 10 a.m., Herring said working or playing outside is fine. Someone can still run into trouble when outside in the late afternoon hours, but that time is better than the middle of the afternoon.
For Clinton High School soccer coach Brad Spell, picking the coolest time of the day is important when it comes to practice with players. Spell, along with the high school soccer team, is hosting soccer camp this week. The camp is from 8:30-11:30 each morning, to make sure the players stay as cool as possible.
“We make sure we watch the players at all times,” Spell pointed out. “I offer the kids a lot of water breaks in between and even turn on the irrigation system to cool them off.”
Much like Herring, Spell recommends his players stay hydrated. He encourages them to drink before practice, during practice and even afterwards.
In addition to soccer, Spell is involved with All-Star baseball, and just like his soccer players, he encourages his baseball group to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, and along with coach Austin Allison, offers practice in the early evening hours.
Both Herring and Spell stressed the importance of staying hydrated and drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day, and not just while the activity is taking place. Otherwise, Spell said, it may be too late, thus causing the person to suffer from heat exhaustion.
“Constantly stay hydrated,” Herring reiterated. “Even the night before, it’s important to drink plenty of water.”