Heat impacts on health, air conditioner

NOW: Heat impacts on health, air conditioner

MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- As temperatures near the 90s over the next few days, the risk for heat-related death and illness increases. 

The Centers for Disease Control estimates extreme heat kills 618 people each year in the United States, however, experts say those deaths and illnesses can be prevented. 

Jeffrey Eck, MD, is a family physician at Goshen Health. 

He explains a fast but weak pulse, dizziness, and heavy sweating may mean a person is suffering from heat exhaustion. 

Someone with heat stroke shows symptoms like a fast, strong pulse and a body temperature of 103℉ or higher. 

The CDC recommends calling 911 if a person is suffering from heat stroke because it is a medical emergency. With both illnesses, it’s important to move the person to a cooler place and put cool cloths on their body. 

“If you think you’re fine and everything and all of a sudden, you’re walking along and you start getting dizzy, you just don’t feel right and think, ‘Geeze what’s wrong with me?’ then get out of the sun, sit down, drink some water and recuperate and don’t go back in the sun,” said Eck. 

Eck adds dehydration is another common heat-related illness. He recommends drinking at least one gallon of water each day in weather like this. 

For additional information on extreme heat and heat-related illness and how to prevent it, click here

Air conditioners will likely be running around the clock over the next few days as well. 

Experts explain a few simple steps can keep the thermostat low, the AC running, and the electric bill affordable. 

James Olesen, operations manager at Home Comfort Experts, recommends homeowners do a yearly maintenance check up on their air conditioners. 

He adds people can also take a hose and rinse the unit’s sides clean or replace their filter. 

Olesen reminds people air conditioners are designed to keep a house 20° cooler than the outside temperature. Setting a thermostat any lower means the AC runs all day to try to keep up. 

However, if the temperature is within the 20° range, Olesen says it’s cheaper to leave an AC running than shutting it on and off in hot, humid weather. 

“If you have no air conditioning, there’s nothing more than you can do,” said Olesen. “It’s hot, it’s sticky, it’s humid and people are upset when their cooling isn’t working. Not to mention the health issues if someone has COPD or asthma and is on oxygen that hot, humid air is very hard to breathe. Young babies at home too, that sort of thing, so no air conditioning can be a very true emergency.”

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