High Temperatures Are No Joke, Pose Real Danger For Many

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RENO, NV - We may joke about them. We may gripe. But these temperatures are no laughing matter.

"Heat can kill," says Washoe County's Interim District Health Officer Kevin Dick, "and people need to be aware of that so they can take precautions to protect themselves and others."

Some of us, the elderly, the very young and pets are particularly vulnerable, but in fact we're all at risk.

These temperatures can overwhelm our body's cooling system.

"As the body temperature increases and gets up to 105, people are suffering heat stroke and that can be deadly.

Before things get that far, there are warning signs. It's called heat exhaustion.

"They may feel confused," says Dick. "They may have a headache. They're very warm. They're sweating profusely.

I can tell you from experience what that's like.

Twenty five years ago a younger, more reckless version of this reporter was assigned a story on the dangers of leaving pets or young children in cars in hot weather.

Rather than use the cliché of cooking a roast on the dashboard, cameraman Bruce Bolf and I decided on an alternative. We parked the car, turned off the AC and began to sweat.

It was 100 outside when we started but quickly rose.

Almost immediately, a fever thermometer I'd taken with me broke. The mercury on two others continued to rise.

I'd prepared myself by drinking several glasses of water, but by 15 minutes with the thermometer pegged, long past 120, I was showing the early signs of heat exhaustion.

My pulse above 130. I was shaky. I had a mild headache.

We stopped before things got worse, but I can tell you it took a day or two to feel right again.

That's not an experience I wanted to repeat today or ever again.

But exerting yourself outside or just sitting in a hot room, you could do the same.

Kevin Dick's advice: Just common sense, stay hydrated, drink fluids before you're thirsty and caffeine and alcohol will work against you.

If you don't have air conditioning seek some out in the heat of the day. Go to the library or the mall or the movies. And when you're outside take it easy, stay in the shade, put off the strenuous stuff until later in the day.

Finally, check on loved ones or neighbors who may be more vulnerable than you.