Who is most at risk in this heat? - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Who is most at risk in this heat?

A local doctor talks about staying safe in the summer heat. (Source: WMBF News) A local doctor talks about staying safe in the summer heat. (Source: WMBF News)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – As sweltering temperatures continue to impact the area, a local doctor explains why heat exhaustion and heat stroke require much more than a trip to the hospital.

“This is something you should not take lightly because you can cause major damage to major organ systems,” said Dr. Dennis Rhoades, the regional medical director for Doctors Care.

Rhoades urged people to think twice when the heat indices are so high for several days in a row.

“You have to worry about brain damage, kidney damage and especially if you're traveling from another part of the country and you're on certain medications," he said. "Certain medications make you more prone to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”

Rhoades said examples of these medications would be diuretics for kidney problems or blood pressure, or if a person is on beta blockers. 

He added those who are the most susceptible to the heat are those who cannot cool themselves off and may already be more dehydrated than others.

“We are used to, when the sun goes down, the temperature cools down and we cool down. You know, we are in our houses, we're in our air conditioning," Rhoades said. "Someone who is homeless or someone who is elderly and doesn't have air conditioning or adequate air conditioning, the nights don't cool off which they haven't been. The heat remains hot.”

He said this is why people can suffer from heat stroke in the middle of the night. 

With such a high heat index right now, homeless shelters like New Directions in Myrtle Beach are operating on a no-questions-asked and open-door policy.

However, Rhoades wants everyone to know when the proper time to call it quits.

“Alright, we've been on the beach for two, two-and-a-half hours. Let's get in somewhere where it's cool. Get something to eat, something to drink. We'll go back out for another hour or two," he said. "But to do three to four hours straight at the beach wouldn't be a good idea for anyone whether you're elderly or young.”

Rhoades stressed that people should seek help right away if a person goes from profusely sweating to not sweating at all. He suggested to take a cool shower or bath, as well as hydrate, right away.

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