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Working through the heat

As temperature soars, doctor urges taking precautions

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Kaleb Jondle, of Fort Dodge, a construction worker for Jensen Builders Ltd., demonstrates his work at the future site of Childcare Discovery on Thursday. Dealing with extreme heat during the work day, Jondle said he and the crew stay hydrated with plenty of water and take more frequent breaks to avoid any heat-related illness.

When Kaleb Jondle, of Fort Dodge, showed up to work on Thursday at 5 a.m., he knew it was going to be a hot one.

Johnson is a construction worker for Jensen Builders Ltd. By the time he finished for the day at about 3 p.m. at the future site of the Childcare Discovery Center, the temperature had reached triple digits.

That’s why he and his co-workers made to sure to bring lots of water to the job site.

“We stay super hydrated,” Jondle said. “We try not to drink pop on days like this. They give us a lot of breaks on days like this.”

During breaks, Jondle said workers will go inside of a truck where they can turn on the A/C.

The combined efforts of staying hydrated and taking more frequent breaks paid off.

“It wasn’t too bad,” Jondle said.

Dr. Christopher Hill, director of the emergency department at UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center, recommends drinking plenty of water on hot days. Sports drinks like Gatorade can also be good to boost electrolytes in the body’s system as long as the drinks don’t contain too much sugar.

But Hill said it’s just as important to consider what not to drink.

“Drinking alcohol is a higher risk activity,” he said. “Alcohol and caffeinated beverages are not recommended.”

In terms of clothing, Hill recommends wearing light colored and loose-fitting clothing.

The dangers of being in extreme heat for too long include heat exhaustion or heat stroke, Hill said.

Some symptoms of a heat stroke include dizziness or difficulty concentrating.

Hill said he expects people to call 911 if experiencing symptoms of a heat stroke.

When people’s body temperatures rise, serious complications can arise, according to Hill.

“If left untreated, it can lead to permanent brain damage,” Hill said. “There are effects to our muscles.”

Hill said the elderly and younger children are the most vulnerable to heat-related illness.

“Younger children are at higher risk,” he said. “Those with underlying medical conditions.”

According to Hill, certain medications like diet pills, sedative medications and some heart medication can increase the risk of a heat-related illness.

Keeping pets safe is another concern.

Regardless of whether it’s a human or an animal, Hill said hot vehicles should be avoided.

“Never leave anyone of any age in a vehicle even with the windows down,” Hill said. “It’s too hot — even with the windows down that is insufficient.”

Hill said in recent days, the emergency department will see anywhere from about three to six patients suffering from a heat-related illness.

Hill said it’s important to care for ourselves in these types of conditions, but it’s also to check on others.

“Check on your neighbors,” he said. “Make sure if they are elderly that we get them into an air conditioned environment.”

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