In the heat of the night

Categories: Emergency care  /  News

Man sleeping with head in refrigerator

The sun has been particularly brutal during the recent string of triple-digit temperatures. But even the night can be risky for some during an extreme heat wave like the one we’ve been experiencing.

While the heat wave has plenty of people fleeing indoors and waiting for sunset, high temperatures at night can still pose a health problem to those who don’t have air conditioning. If people aren’t comfortable opening their windows at night, or the house still does not cool down well, they could still suffer heat-related stress, said Dr. Mark Muir, trauma medical director at University Hospital and an assistant professor of surgery at UT Health San Antonio .

“There’s a fair amount of data that shows people do need that break,” Dr. Muir said. “A person can lose a liter or two of fluid sweating through the night, particularly when nighttime temperatures stay above 85 degrees.”

On Monday, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District issued a level 1 excessive heat warning, indicating a sustained heat index greater than or equal to 113 degrees Fahrenheit, or air temperatures greater than or equal to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.  The city’s Office of Emergency Management has a list of cooling centers where people can escape the heat.

Among the most vulnerable are elderly people who live alone with no air conditioning, particularly in the city, which gets hotter and doesn’t cool off as quickly.

Dr. Muir’s advice: Try staying with friends or family during such hot spells if there’s no air conditioning. And be diligent about staying hydrated, even in the shade and at night.

Watch an interview with Dr. Muir on surviving the heat on KENS 5.

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