Health dangers climb with triple-digit temps

07/19/2011 12:00 AM

08/05/2014 3:19 PM

Heat-related health problems are rising as triple-digit temperatures continue to assault the region, with two deaths reported.

On Monday, a man died of apparent heat-related causes in the 5400 block of Southwest 53rd, northeast of El Dorado Lake, Butler County officials said. His name was not released.

On Saturday, 47-year-old Larry L. Godfrey of Arkansas City died of apparent heatstroke while riding a bicycle near Oxford at noon.

Sedgwick County Emergency Services reported about a dozen 911 calls related to heat problems Friday through Sunday night. Some of the cases required transportation to hospitals.

And Wichita hospitals reported a slight increase in heat-related visits to their emergency rooms over the weekend.

Still, Scott Hadley, the county's EMS director, said he was pleased at the relatively few problems that have occurred during the unusually long siege of 100-degree weather.

Monday was the 24th day of triple-digit temperatures in Wichita this year, according to the National Weather Service.

"I think people have been very diligent and prudent with their actions, knowing the heat was going to be here for a while," Hadley said.

The heat-related EMS calls concerned cramps, exhaustion, nausea and vomiting due to heat, Hadley said.

Many also involved contributing factors such as alcohol consumption, lack of hydration and pre-existing medical conditions that made people more susceptible to the heat.

Via Christi Hospitals in Wichita saw 17 people in their emergency rooms with heat-related illnesses, a couple of which were admitted, said a spokesperson.

Wesley Medical Center had eight people come in with symptoms such as dehydration and migraines that possibly were related to heat, but only one with symptoms directly related to heat, according to a hospital spokeswoman. Another came in Monday with heat-related symptoms, she said.

All were treated and released.

Hadley said that overall, people are behaving safely in the excessive heat.

"They are doing proper things, such as working outside or exercising early in the morning or after dark, keeping hydrated and taking breaks," he said.

That could become a way of life for a while.

The National Weather Service in Wichita said temperatures of 100 to 105 degrees will continue through next Monday, with no precipitation.

Hadley warned that people tend to let their guard down if heat continues.

"You don't want to get behind in hydration," he said. "That can affect you down the road."

Those who are without air conditioning or who are more susceptible to heat, such as the elderly, should visit shopping malls, churches, libraries, theaters and other public places that are air-conditioned during the hottest part of the day, he said.

Hadley said EMS also is concerned about recreational water safety when temperatures climb. Adults must closely monitor children in or around pools, lakes and ponds, he said. Monitoring their activities from indoors results in a slower reaction time, which increases the risk of drowning.

People who aren't strong swimmers shouldn't submerge themselves in water to cool down, he said.

The Kansas Department on Aging cautioned seniors to be especially careful in the heat. Seniors can forget they've aged and fail to slow down on their outdoor activities.

"It's a matter of mindset," said Sara Arif, a department spokeswoman. "When you're younger and healthier, you can do more than when you're older."

Seniors also may have medical conditions that can contribute to heat illnesses that they didn't have before, she said. The Midway-Kansas Chapter of the Red Cross started a box fan give-away plan in June, but ran out of fans after handing out more than 940 of them, said James Williams, Red Cross public relations manager.

Williams recommended that people take first aid and CPR classes through the Red Cross to learn how to respond to heat-related health emergencies.

People can register for courses at or by phoning 800-REDCROSS (800-733-2767), Williams said.

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