As temperatures rise in Montana, so does risk of heat-related illness

Posted at 3:09 PM, Jul 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-20 17:09:57-04

Montana is not known for hot temperatures. But with the hottest weather of the year right around the corner, it’s important to be prepared for heat-related illness.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting the warmest week of the year as we head into late July, which will increase the risk of heat-related illness such as heat cramps and may lead to heat exhaustion — and eventually, heat stroke.

But according to experts, symptoms can be easily identified.

“Development of headache, nausea, vomiting, feeling fatigued, light-headed,” said Dr. Tiffany Kuehl, Bozeman Health Emergency Services physician. “If you’re noticing in someone else if they seem to be withdrawn, or confused, or quieter than they should be, that’s also something to be taken into consideration.”

If you start to notice these symptoms, the most important thing to do is to get indoors or in an air-conditioned environment immediately.

“Cooling yourself down in any way you can, taking a cold shower, but hydration is the most important. So even if you can’t take yourself out of the environment … hydrate, preferably with some type of solution that has some electrolytes in it,” Kuehl added.

Early stages of heat exhaustion can usually be treated at home. But if you or someone else starts to experience vomiting, it’s time for medical attention.

“[If] it’s at that point where you cannot hydrate yourself, you cannot reverse the process … that’s where we need to use our skills to reverse the process,” Kuehl said.

Obviously, you want to avoid all of this at all costs, and the best way to do that is to be prepared before you go outside. But while you’re outside, make sure you slow down, take frequent breaks and probably the most important precaution: drink plenty of water.

If you’re planning a long hike, make sure you have plenty of water on board.

“Take what you think you’ll need and double it,” Kuehl said.

-Reported by Carson Vickroy/MTN News