High temperatures serve as catalyst for dehydration

Beverly Smith just couldn’t escape the heat.
In search of relief from Monday’s 90-degree temperatures and swamp-like humidity, Smith fled to work on her day off in search of air conditioning.
Smith, who researches infectious diseases in the University pediatrics department, was escaping her apartment, where only an open window might offer relief from the heat.
Alas, no one had turned on the air at her University lab, either. So Smith resigned her air-conditioned dreams and went to River Flats Park.
“It’s a bit cooler down here,” Smith said. “The river looks inviting. It’s too bad it’s not cleaner.”
A few others also might have done well to seek out some water. Fairview-University Medical Center officials reported that several people were hospitalized over the weekend from heat exhaustion.
“When it’s this warm outside, people need to gauge their activities and push liquids,” said Kimberly Shamsfard, a nurse manager in the Fairview-University Medical Center emergency room.
Drinking two to three times as much as water as normal is necessary to prevent dehydration, she said.
This heat wave has been particularly dangerous because it followed a week of comfortable temperatures in the mid-70s. During hot summers, Shamsfard said, people become accustomed to watching their behavior. When it gets hot so suddenly, however, people often don’t realize the danger of becoming dehydrated.
Lightheadedness and nausea are early signs of heat exhaustion, Shamsfard said. If a person begins vomiting, treatment at a hospital emergency room might be necessary.
People with less severe symptoms should move to a cooler environment and slowly sip water, she said.
Terry Clark, who has moved to Minneapolis every summer since 1995 to escape the Florida heat, spent his day off on Monday fishing the shores of the Mississippi.
In his experience, Minnesota heat is worse than Florida heat. “We’ve got real beaches in Florida where you can actually swim,” he said.