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By diazservice30317722, Aug 8 2017 11:52PM

El Paso has experienced record breaking high temperatures over the years, and while many people enjoy summers because warm temperatures mean pool parties, tan lines, and shorts, it can also be a time of severe health problems, especially for someone who lives without proper air conditioning. There are many dangers of intense heat that everyone should be aware of.

Intense Heat: Health Dangers

The human body adjusts to heat in two ways; through breathing and through sweating. However, your body can experience a myriad of symptoms and issues when it experiences extreme heat, and some of these can even be deadly, which is why it is important to combat the heat as much as you can. These symptoms include:

Your Body- A number of things start to happen to your body when your internal temperature increases due to the outside world. You may experience painful muscle cramps, heat edema--a condition which causes blood to pool in your feet, ankles, and hands, which is why your rings may fit in the winter but not the summer--and heat rash on your skin, which happens because your sweat pores become clogged. In prolonged heat, you may stop sweating altogether and experience a heat stroke, which can even be fatal.

Your Brain- One of the most common side effects of heat on your brain is irritability. When you’re exposed to high heat over long periods of time, it can take a toll on your brain. You may become dizzy, delusional, and you can even hallucinate. In extreme heat, you can lose your ability for basic skills, like motor skills and deduction. This is because when you’re experiencing high levels of heat, your brain is receiving less water and you lose a lot of salt because of sweat. This can have adverse effects on your body.

Heat Stroke vs. Heat Exhaustion- When your body experiences this kind of stress from the heat, it can undergo two very extreme conditions; heat stroke and heat exhaustion. You usually experience heat exhaustion right before a heat stroke. When you experience heat exhaustion, you sweat profusely, become dizzy, nauseated, and fatigued, and have a severe headache. When heat exhaustion progresses to a heat stroke, your body temperature rises to 104 or more degrees Fahrenheit, which can become deadly, especially without treatment. While going through a heat stroke, you usually stop sweating and your symptoms worsen, causing you to vomit or pass out.

It’s important to protect yourself from excess heat, especially when exercising and during periods of extremely high temperatures, something we experience frequently here in El Paso.

What to Do if You or a Loved One Experiences Heat Exhaustion/Stroke

If you or a loved one experiences heat exhaustion or a heat stroke, it can be scary. While the symptoms of both are similar, it’s important to seek medical treatment if you or someone you know experiences a heat stroke, though medical treatment for heat exhaustion is not always necessary. For a rule of thumb, people usually sweat profusely during heat exhaustion, but don’t sweat at all when having a heat stroke. If you suspect you or someone else is experiencing heat exhaustion, you should:

Get yourself or your loved one out of the sun and into a cool area

Place ice packs under the armpits and on the groin

Drink plenty of water and drinks with electrolytes to rehydrate, but avoid drinks with a lot of sugar and caffeine

If heat exhaustion progresses to a heat stroke, it’s important to seek medical attention right away

Heat Stroke and Exhaustion Prevention

There are many things you can do to prevent these issues from happening. This includes:

Staying Hydrated: Whether you’re out and about or relaxing in your backyard on a hot, sunny day, it’s important to stay hydrated. Drink water and sports drinks with electrolytes to ensure you rehydrate. This is important because when you’re hot, you sweat a lot, losing excess water and salt that goes toward keeping you hydrated. You sweat because your body is attempting to cool your blood down, but when your body fails to absorb the sweat, like when it’s humid outside, it can result in a decrease in the amount of blood and water going to your brain, causing several issues. Staying hydrated can help counter these problems.

Know Your Limit: While you can’t always avoid being outside during El Paso’s hottest days of the year, it’s important to know how much you can handle. Some people can handle the heat better than others, so plan your day accordingly. Also, if you’re outside and you start feeling bad or any of the symptoms mentioned above, get inside and in a cool area as soon as you can.

Use Your Air Conditioner: While this may seem like common sense, many people choose to not run their swamp cooler often enough to either save money or to avoid needing to get it fixed or maintained as often, but this can have severe consequences for you, your family, and your pets, if you have any. It’s important to keep your house at a comfortable temperature, even when you’re away, to make sure everyone stays comfortable and healthy.

How Your Swamp Cooler Works

Just like any other kind of air conditioner, your swamp cooler’s main job is to keep you cool. Your swamp cooler works by taking in warm air and using the air to evaporate water that it stores on pads in the machine. The water evaporates, cooling the air, which is then released back into your home.

Why Are Swamp Coolers Important?

Without a properly working air conditioner, and without running your AC for that matter, your home can actually reach temperatures hotter than the outside temperature, endangering you and your family. Swamp coolers are important because they work to keep you cool and, more importantly, keep you safe during the hottest days of El Paso’s summers. Knowing these facts about the effects of intense heat on the human body, it’s important to make sure you not only utilize your swamp cooler, but to make sure it is maintained regularly and repaired as soon as a problem arises. This way, you and your family stay safe and comfortable, even during triple-digit heat.