As heat temperatures rise, emergency officials are stressing the importance of heat safety

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Thursday is the official start of summer and with temperatures on the rise and mid-90 degrees expected on Sunday, it’s a reminder to take the proper safety precautions when out in the heat.

Last year alone, 2,302 heat-related deaths happened, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Leigh Patterson, ECU Health’s Chief of Emergency Services says that those most affected are those older and younger.

Safety precautions that Patterson says are most important is to remember that the middle of the day is the hottest and likely the easiest time of day to experience sunburn and/or any heat-related illness, which is why she says it’s vital to drink enough fluids, take frequent breaks out of the sun when you can, wear cool clothing and hats, as well as stay near a fan and out of direct sun if possible.

Though there’s not a set standard amount of how much water one should drink throughout the day, Patterson says there are ways to stay aware.

“Stay hydrated, and again those extremes of age—our elderly and our very young patients, they don’t recognize they need to drink fluids as often as they should. They may not be as mindful of that and really thinking to yourself, hey—have I had something to drink this hour? If you haven’t had to go to the bathroom and urinate in a couple of hours, you need something. That’s kind of that first sign of hey, you need to pee, and I need to drink some more fluids. That’s really important,” Patterson told WITN.

According to the EPA, those with chronic illnesses are more at risk than others which is why it’s important to know the signs of heat-related illnesses for both yourself and those around you.

Patterson says, “People get constipated. People don’t urinate very often, it’s very dark. They start to get headaches. If you’re getting a headache in the heat, you need some water, you need some fluids—non-caffeinated fluids. It doesn’t have to be water. Lemonade is fine, sprite, things like that but non-caffeinated fluids. After a headache, you start to have trouble sweating. You don’t feel good, you feel kind of icky, and then you feel really tired—an unexplained tired.”

For those six months and younger, it’s important to remember that formula and breastmilk will meet all of their hydration needs, as it’s not recommended to give water to those six months and younger, according to the CDC.