Heat exhaustion sends several to hospital this week

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)– After an unusually mild summer, St. Louisans are getting sick of this sudden heat wave, and sick because of it.

Stephen Dunlap, 22, will be spending Wednesday night at Barnes-Jewish hospital where he is being treated for heat exhaustion.

He is the third patient the hospital has seen this week for heat related illness.

Dunlap began feeling sick Monday after spending several hours walking from south St. Louis to downtown looking for work.

“I started to get a little light headed and dizzy and nauseous and that`s when I went to a gas station and a pharmacy and got some water, but once I got some water in, it just came up, I couldn`t keep any down,” Dunlap said.

Dr. Mark Levine, an ER physician at Barnes-Jewish, says people can deceive themselves and end up in a dangerous situation.

“You just think it`s a really nice day and then by the time you get overheated it is almost too late,” Levine said. “By the time you stop sweating, you might think that it`s okay but the rest of your body really is telling you yes, you are very sick.”

According to OSHA, it normally takes about two weeks for our bodies to adapt to hot weather, but because this summer has been so mild, Pam Walker, Health Director for the City of St. Louis,  is worried people are not prepared, nor in the proper mindset for the hot weather.

“Younger people, who think they are invincible, or the guy who mows his yard every Wednesday at 2:00 P.M., remember it is really hot this week, and you need to think about what you are doing outside,” Walker said.

But some people must be outside, including city road repair crews working on Arsenal Street, repaving it in near-100 degree conditions, laying asphalt that is 300 degrees.

“It`s tough,” said foreman Will Young. “I always categorize us as being Marines because Marines are the toughest.”

This weekend, St. Louis has several outdoor festivals where heat may be a concern, including the annual Greek Fest at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in the Central West End.

“We are going to have a misting tent over in the Taverna area for anybody that gets overheated, we have two doctors on-call on the premises all day long, and a first aid room to cool people off,” said Nick Tharenos, festival chairman. “We`ve alerted all our guys out in the pits to hydrate and take a rest every now and then.”

The City of St. Louis has also started robo-calling residents on its Special Needs Registry to remind them to take precautions such as wearing light loose fitting clothing during the hot weather.

But Stephen Dunlap has some advice that is even simpler.

“Definitely take some water with you and stay hydrated.”

How to keep cool during this week’s extreme heat

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