Health experts: look out for those vulnerable to high heat

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.— During the summer months, organizations like Meals on Wheels provide two services.

Not only do volunteers help deliver meals to clients, but for the oldest of their customers, they provide wellness checks, particularly as it concerns to summer heat.

“It’s a nice added comfort that they have people they can count on to come out and check on them every once in a while,” Volunteer Kristen Keller said.

Checking up on the elderly for heat related illnesses during the summer months is a recommended practice, according to experts

“In general it’s always a good idea to check on someone who is a little bit older who might need some help,” Dr. Tyler Stepsis said.

Stepsis is an ER physician at Eskenazi. This week, hospital officials are warning the public about the dangers of heat related illnesses, particularly as it pertains to the very young and the very old, who are at an increased risk compared to others.

“You’ll see things as easy as headaches to start out with, heat exhaustion, muscle cramps and that kind of stuff. If you get to there find a shady spot, find a place out of the sun or if you can go inside to a cool area that’s important too,” Stepsis said.

The signs of heat related illness are what you might expect. They include increased sweating, lethargy and loss of motor skills or mental sharpness. In some cases, a person may suddenly stop sweating completely.

“It doesn’t have to feel hot to be hot. Humidity can do quite a number on you as well,”  Stepsis said.

Water, shade, and a cool room will usually do the trick when it comes to fighting heat related illness. However, experts like Stepsis say knowing the signs are equally as important.

Another group at high risk for heat illness is anyone that’s on anti-depressants or antipsychotics. Stepsis says those drugs can affect the way body temperature is regulated.

“If you have any questions at all about what’s at stake that’s why we’re here. We treat people;  but we also alleviate fears in the emergency department, its something we are well capable of,” Stepsis said.