Emergency management coordinator explains how to prevent and recognize heat exhaustion

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"I don't take my kids anywhere. I leave them home in the air conditioning."

ODESSA, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – As West Texas continues to battle record-breaking temperatures, concerns around overheating and burning are surfacing once again.

For a Midland mother of seven, Amy Wilson, summer months call for extreme vigilance. Even for an experienced mother like her, she says mistakes can happen so fast.

“I was driving my daughter about five blocks away to her friend’s house, because it was hot, and I had put my two-year-old in the backseat. But I was so tired, because I was pregnant with twins,” explained Wilson. “It wasn’t until I was about a block from our house, I had forgotten she was there. So that was terrifying, and I’ve been hypervigilant ever since then.”

Now come summer, she uses the opportunity to educate her own children on the dangers of West Texas heat.

“We don’t go to the playground in the afternoon. Only ever in the mornings before 10,” said Wilson.

Medical Center Hospital’s Emergency Management Coordinator, Amanda Everett, says her biggest advice is to be informed and to stay prepared.

“You want to make sure that you’re watching the people around you and make sure that you’re not out in the direct heat for long periods of time. Make sure that you’re wearing light-colored clothing as well as loose-fitting. And then you need to be drinking at least four cups of water every hour, especially when the temperature is anywhere between 103 and 115 degrees,” said Everett.

She also advises staying away from caffeinated drinks and alcohol as they tend to increase dehydration. She says these following symptoms are some tell-tale signs of someone experiencing heat exhaustion.

“They’re dizzy, they’re dehydrated, they’re sweating profusely. Confusion and passing out will be the number one thing that brings people in.”

Everett encourages people to act as watchdogs for each other and to take quick action when seeing heat-induced symptoms.

“Kids and the elderly — they’re way more susceptible to heat. Not only do we need to watch out for ourselves, but also our pets as well.”

Everett reminds parents to be wary of metal parts on car seats and surfaces like concrete and pavement.

Historically, summer causes a spike in heat-related emergencies but this year, Everett says due to social distancing amid COVID-19, there has only been a handful.

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