Local experts explain heat wave dangers as temperatures rise continue across the US

BLACKSBURG, Va. – This year has been one of the hottest years on record. With another heat wave making its way through the United States, medical professionals are warning people of the dangers of the heat.

“The biggest thing is to try and avoid the times of day when it’s hottest and the direct sunlight,” said Dr. Joshua Slakman, doctor of osteopathic medicine at Lewis-Gale Physicians.

Experts said heat waves are one of the deadliest natural disasters in the world, but many people do not consider how dangerous they are.

“People aren’t really accustomed to the heat so they pretend they can do what they can normally do,” said Stephanie Lareau, associate professor of emergency medicine at Virginia Tech Carilion. “When a heat wave comes people kind of need to take that into account and scale back what they’re trying to do.”

Lareua said heat strokes need to be taken extremely seriously.

“An external source of heat such as the sun or being outside on warm days or being left in a hot car, that can cause your body temperature to get above 104 degrees and actually start to cause damage to your organs,” said Dr. Lareau.

There are ways to ensure you can stay safe if you do have to get out into the heat. Professionals say to make sure you are staying hydrated, and if you can’t avoid the sun, wear the right clothes.

“When it’s really hot, adjusting what you’re wearing to white-colored, breathable clothing is really important because it allows your body to sweat effectively,” said Dr. Lareau.

Medical professionals said the most vulnerable groups of people are children and the elderly.

If you suspect you or someone around you is experiencing heat stroke, contact emergency services and try to rapidly cool them down.

Medical experts say you can help cool someone by misting them, using ice to cool spots like your neck and wrists, and finding shade.

About the Author:

Thomas grew up right here in Roanoke and is a graduate of Salem High School and Virginia Tech.