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Two people are dead after extreme heat wave hits Michiana

ELKHART, Ind.-- After three straight days of record breaking temperatures and dangerous heat, the extreme weather took its toll on Michiana.

 Two people in Elkhart died over the weekend due to heat exposure.

The Elkhart County Coroner, John White, confirmed that both victims died of hyperthermia, the medical term for prolonged heat exposure.

The two cases are unrelated. The first victim was an elderly woman and the second was a middle-aged man.

Both victims were discovered over the weekend at the height of the heat in non-air conditioned apartments.

ABC 57 talked to Elkhart paramedic, Lieutenant Cary Dygert to explain the effects of hyperthermia and heat exposure.

“The elderly and young, usually less than 4 years of age and older than 65 have a little bit harder time regulating the heat,“ explained Dygert.  

According to White, an elderly woman was found dead in her apartment on Friday evening.

The apartment temperature was 98 degrees and the woman’s core body temperature was 104 degrees.

White said the woman lived alone, but was discovered by Elkhart Police during a wellness check.

 “They usually define heat stroke, which is the worst case, right around 104 degrees, right around there,” explained Dygert.  

But she wasn’t the only victim of the weekend’s heat. White confirmed  a 45-year-old, morbidly obese, man was also found dead.

He was discovered  on Saturday evening by his housemates.

His body temperature was 102.5 degrees and his room was 92.5 degrees.

“Overweight people tend to hold on to heat longer,” said Dygert.  

White said both victims died of hyperthermia, a condition that occurs when the body has been exposed to high temperatures for a prolonged period of time.

“The body sweats, the water evaporates off of us and that’s how the body cools,” explained Dygert.  “When it gets too hot, it’s harder for that body to evaporate during high humidity conditions, the water doesn’t evaporate as quickly so our body tends to overheat.”

Once the body overheats, organs start to shut down.

“The best thing you can do is remove them from the hot environment and get them somewhere where they can start that cooling process,” said Dygert.  

Both Dygert and White said that people without air conditioning need to remove themselves from the heat to allow their body to cool down.

Individuals in good health are able to sustain a high body temperature of 101 for longer periods of time than the very young or the elderly, but it is still important to give your body a break from the prolonged heat.

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