HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Dustyn Brown has made his living as a landscaper for 3 years. He says he knows the dangers of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. That's why he takes precautions. "Having a cooler filled with ice, Gatorade, water. You don't want to exhaust yourself. Get in the air conditioning a few times a day. Every 10 or 15 minutes it's not too bad to hop in there and cool off a little while," he said.
It's people like Dustyn that concern Parkway's E.R. Services Director, Summor Gooch. "We've actually had several patients come in and we haven't had a heatstroke, but we have seen heat exhaustion. Patients or people in our community who work a lot outside, who have jobs outside," said Gooch.
Outside in the heat, sun and humidity, the body goes through some changes, according to Gooch. "It changes your potassium and sodium in your body and Gatorade and Powerade replenish those needed electrolytes."
She says there is help. "Our advice: I really encourage people to drink a lot of Gatorade, Propel, Powerade, things like that. Water is good too, but Gatorade and Propel is better."
In addition to outside workers like Dustyn, small children, the elderly and people with certain health problems are most at risk. Gooch says the longer the exposure, the worse the condition of the body as it moves toward stroke. "With a rapid pulse, changes in blood pressure. It can lead to seizures and actual coma and death," said Gooch.
Once those symptoms become serious, it's time to seek medical intervention. And they say you need to seek that help quickly.
Dustyn says his advice is simple. "You can tell when you're body's going to be doing too much, so sweating too much is a good sign to chill out for a minute," he said.
Here are some simple ways to beat the heat:
Try a desert trick. When the air outside is dry and cooler than the air inside, hang a damp sheet in an open window.
Closing curtains and blinds (ideally with sun-deflecting white on the window side) can reduce the amount of heat going into your home by as much as 45 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Make a makeshift air conditioner. Put a shallow bowl of ice in front of a fan and enjoy the breeze. As the ice melts, then evaporates, it will cool you off.
Give your A/C some TLC. Clean or replace the filter in room and central air conditioners about once a month during the summer. Have the ducts checked for leaks, which can reduce a system's efficiency by as much as 15 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Close the damper to your fireplace. An open one pulls hot air into your house in a process called flow reversal.
Whether the air conditioner is on or off, keep windows and doors shut if the temperature outside is more than 77 degrees Fahrenheit (most people sweat at 78). Whenever the outside air is hotter than the inside air, opening a window invites heat to come into the house.