It's not news that it has been hot outside — really, really hot outside — but you might not realize how that heat can have a serious effect on your health.
People older than 65 and younger than 4 are most likely to suffer from heat-related illness, but heat is "something that affects almost any population," said Dr. Ryan Stanton, medical director at UK Good Samaritan Hospital and an emergency room physician.
The state Department of Public Health issued a warning last week that the oppressive heat has become a public health concern. And with temperatures in Central Kentucky already hovering in the 90s even in early summer, it's a good time to think about how to protect yourself and those you love.
"People just aren't aware of the necessary steps they need to take" to protect themselves from the heat, said Greg Hiles, communications specialist for the Lexington Fayette-County Health Department.
One easy preventive step is to drink plenty of water.
It's important, as the heat drags on from day to day, to stay well hydrated. The longer your body goes without enough fluids, the more weary it can become.
"It's especially important in the elderly population," Stanton said. "They may not drink a lot of water anyway."
The most serious complication from blistering sun is heatstroke. That's when the body ceases to have the ability to regulate its reaction to the heat. It can happen rapidly, Stanton said. And one potentially dangerous side effect is mental confusion.
"The problem is, once you get into the real danger zone, the person affected may not be alert or awake enough to know they need help," he said.
That's why it's important for people to watch out for signs of trouble, especially for those in a high risk group, like diabetics. If there is any question whether a person is suffering from heatstroke, he said, contact emergency medical services.
"Any time anybody is acting differently, they are confused, they don't get any better quickly, you need to call 9-1-1 and get them to the ER," he said. "It's better to err on the side of caution."
On the other hand, if your job doesn't require you to be outside during peak hours for heat, roughly 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., there is a surefire way to avoid complications: Stay inside.