Medical professionals stress importance of recognizing heat-related illnesses

Record breaking temperatures

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Memorial Day weekend kicked off with some record-breaking temperatures along the Grand Strand and Pee Dee, and the heat wave is not over yet.

Local doctors say with temperatures reaching 90 degrees plus, your safety is at risk. And since we're right on the beach, heat-related illnesses are very common, which is why you should always stay hydrated.

There are some things you can do right now to prevent heat-related illnesses. With a combination of hot temperatures and a high humidity level, it's important to stay cool to prevent possible heat exhaustion - or even worse - heat stroke.

But there's a big difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat cramps are the first signs of your body telling you to slow down and cool off. You will begin to experience heavy sweating and muscle pain or spasms. If someone is suffering from heat exhaustion, symptoms you should look out for are dizziness, weakness and nausea. It's best to cool down with water and cool air.

If someone is suffering from a heat stroke, it can be deadly. Doctors say it's important to pay attention to your body and warning signs.

Dr. Dennis Rhoades, the regional medical director for Doctors Care, says one of the most important things to realize is the stage just prior to heat stroke, when you stop sweating. He says that is one of the major signs that you’re in trouble.

There are some people who are at higher risk of heat-related illnesses, such as infants, young children and people who are 65 and older. Therefore, it’s important to pay extra attention to these folks.

"We have a lot of tourists who come from colder climates like up north where they don’t see this type of heat. And they come down here thinking okay, it’s going to be like a hot summer day in Montana or it’s going to be a hot summer day in New Jersey. No it’s not, it’s completely different climate down here. You’re going to dehydrate way faster,” Rhoades said.

Experts say the best time to avoid the sun is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when the sun's rays are strongest.

And because of the record-breaking temperatures in the forecast, the city of Conway is reminding residents of the city’s cooling shelter that is available to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the Conway Public Safety Building.

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