July 23, 2011
Hospitals around the nation, including Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, are seeing an increase in patients with heat-related symptoms as much of the country struggles to find relief in an agonizing heat wave.
"It's broiling out here," said Kelsey Hunt.
Heat from Midwest to NY Not Taking Weekend Off
The National Weather Service say there's likely to be more "oppressive" weather from a heat wave that has spread from the Midwest to the Northeast.
The heat wave has tormented millions of people with blasts of 100-degree temperatures and bog-like humidity. Blackouts have struck neighborhoods. Deaths are blamed on the hot weather.
On Friday, the mercury in Newark, N.J., reached 108, the highest ever recorded there. Airports near Washington and Baltimore hit 105. Philadelphia reached 104, Boston 103.
New York City hit 104 degrees, 2 short of its all-time high. Humidity made it feel like 113.
- Associated Press
Hunt, an Albemarle High School cheerleader, joined other members of her squad in the heat Saturday morning at a fundraising car wash.
"It's pretty hot," she said. "You have to spray yourself to keep cool. I completely sprayed myself with the hose."
Nurses in the Martha Jefferson Hospital emergency department said spending time in the heat is part of the reason they're seeing an increase in patients this week.
"If you have those 'honey-do' lists, this might be a chance to get out of it, because it's not the time to be outside," said Jan Carroll, the hospital's shift director for the emergency department.
Carroll estimates there's been a 15 percent increase in the number of patients that have come in this week. It's tough to attribute all of those to the heat, though it does play a big part.
"People want to go out and do things they normally do, whether it's work, whether it's play, whether it's softball, and they hope they can get through it," registered nurse Steve Showalter said.
Fever, chills and light-headedness are all symptoms of being out in the heat too long, and if left untreated, they can have fatal results.
"It's dangerous and you can die, real quick," Showalter said. "So you've got to take care of yourself."
Patients receive fluids through IVs to get rehydrated during this time of extreme heat the area hasn't seen in years.
"From everybody who lives in Charlottesville that I've spoken with, they said they did not ever see anything like this," Carroll said.
As the cheerleaders say, it's important to stay cool and drink up.
"We have a lot of water to keep cool because you got to stay hydrated," Hunt said.
Above all else, taking care of yourself is the first priority.
"We're all just trying to get through these next few days," she said.
Martha Jefferson Hospital officials said if you think you have any symptoms of excessive heat, call 911 or visit the emergency room. For more resources on how to beat the heat, visit this story.