STEUBENVILLE - The medical community has some advice for area residents who will have to cope with high humidity and temperatures hovering in the mid- to upper-90s for at least the next few days: Stay indoors as much as possible and stay hydrated.
The combination of high heat and high humidity "tells me we're going to see some heat-related type injuries," said Dr. David Cercone, medical director of Trinity Medical Center West's emergency department. "The first thing we always see is workers who have to be out in the heat, they have no choice, and they get overheated. But the other two groups it mainly effects are the elderly and the really young - the elderly because of the other illnesses associated with them, it makes them more prone to heat-related type injuries. A lot of these people, particularly in our area, live in homes that do not have air conditioning. The temperature goes up and they become overheated, and they may already have problems predisposing them to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. And with young (children) it doesn't take much exposure for them to get overheated and dehydrated."
Weirton Medical Center's Dr. Rene Moncion said the key is to hydrate: Drink lots of water, not alcohol.
Local residents on Friday found one way to cool off despite the heat wave sweeping the area — they enjoyed the cool water at Starvaggi Memorial Pool and Park in Weirton. Temperatures are expected to hover in the low 90s with high humidity for the next few days. -- Jeremy Kins
"Alcohol tends to be dehydrating in itself, so then you kind of have two things working against you," he said. "So (if you must), drink alcohol with moderation and stay out of the sun - look for shaded areas or air conditioned areas."
Moncion also said coaches should schedule practices early in the morning or in the evening, when things cool down a bit. The same goes for people who need to do yard work.
"Stay hydrated, limit your time in the sun," he advises. "Don't practice (sports) when the sun is at its highest point, do it in the early morning or late evening - that's with all activities. Even grass cutting can be done first thing in the morning."
They said dizziness, elevated body temperatures, headache, nausea and vomiting can be warning signs.
"As it progresses, they have some mental status changes they may have low blood pressure because they're dehydrated, all the way to the extreme, where they come in unresponsive," Cercone said.
Treatment begins with IV fluids, "and we get them into an air conditioned environment and make sure they don't have any other medical problems going on," Cercone said.
"Minimize exposure, that's the key to any heat-related injuries," he added. "If you need to be out in weather like this, just be out for a short period of time. Avoid the heat at all costs. If you have to work in it, try to minimize it."
Sunscreen is also a priority, even on cloudy days. Choose one with a high SPF, apply it liberally and reapply every two hours, officials say.
"That's the other side of the heat and temperature, people get exposure and get sunburns that can be painful and cause lots of problems," Cercone said. "It's very, very important, even when it's overcast, to use sunscreen."