Dealing with the heat from the experts

Dealing with the heat from the experts

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - As the temperatures soar again in Tucson, another extreme heat warning. It has become apparent that it may be a while before there is a break in the heat wave.

It's difficult for many people to handle the heat day in and day out because of age, medications or general bad health.

But what effect, if any, does it have on the healthy?

Dr. Jaiva Larsen, an emergency room doctor and toxicology specialist at Banner Health, is not aware of serious implications for the healthy, as long as they take care of themselves and follow proper procedures.

"Getting too dehydrated could affect the kidneys," she said. "And there are other issues which could be caused by excessive exposure."

Things like heat exhaustion, hypoglycemia or even muscle breakdown. For the most part, Dr.Larsen believes the biggest issue is a disruption in routine that may cause people to make bad decisions.

"They get tired of being cooped up as it goes on and on and they become more likely to let their guard down," she said. "So they go outdoors to do activities which may put them at risk for a heat related illness."

Everyone has limits and it's best to know what those limits are and live within them.

However, there are those people who work outdoors in excessive heat for eight, 10 or 12 hours a day and seem to be fine.

Construction workers are a good example of that. But it's because they have help.

To make sure they survive the heat, Alliance Safety, LLC of Tempe, advises developers and builders on how to keep their workers safe when the thermometer rises.

"The number one goal for any project is to get them home safe at the end of the day," said company CEO Jeff Nordstrand. "It's not to build the building, its going home safe to your family."

His 24 years of experience has convinced him the most important thing is for the workers to stay hydrated. He says workers in the heat should drink two or three 16 ounce bottles of water per hour.

"It's a lot of water," he said. "But it works."

The most difficult part he believes, is to get the workers to buy into the things they need to do to stay healthy.

"We want them to understand and learn the methods and procedures to take care of themselves," he said.

He adds, it's not just on the job either, it's a 24-hour process.

"Rest, not so much during the day," he said. "Rest at night, go home rest, come to work energized and hydrated."

He says workers who come to work with an empty reservoir are playing catch up all day long and its tiring.

"We've never lost anybody," he said. "We've seen people succumb to heat and have to be removed from a project and got medical treatment."

He has a warning for those who don't take heat seriously.

"It can kill you," he said. "It's not that it hurts you, it's not that is makes you feel bad, it's not that it sends you to the doctors, it can kill you."

That's a message that's hard to ignore.

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