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Record spring heat sends over 50 New Mexicans to ERs with heat-related illnesses

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Since April 1 there have been at least 51 heat-related visits to emergency rooms across New Mexico. As temperatures are expected to climb to the mid to upper 90s in Roswell and Carlsbad and remain in the low 90s in Las Cruces during the week of May 27, the New Mexico Department of Health is urging residents to take precautions to stay cool. The eastern part of the state will also experience high temperatures, reaching the upper 80s to 90°F.

“While anyone can get sick from exposure to heat, everyone can lower the risk of getting sick by taking precautions”, Dr. Miranda Durham, Chief Medical Officer for NMHealth, said. “This Memorial Day weekend and all summer, be mindful of the temperature when you and your family are outdoors.”

Symptoms of heat-related illnesses can range from rash and sunburn to cramps and exhaustion. Certain groups are more vulnerable to these conditions, including:

People who work outside.

Athletes and others who spend time outside.

Young children and infants, especially when they are left unattended in cars.

Older adults as people cannot regulate our internal temperatures as well as they age.

People with chronic medical conditions may have a serious health problem during a heat wave.

Pregnant people are at higher risk for heat illness because their bodies must work harder to cool down the babies’ body as well as their own.

NMHealth recommends that New Mexicans prepare by:

Outdoor workers should let their bodies get used to the heat by gradually increasing work hours as it gets hot, slowing their work pace down when it gets hot, shifting work time to avoid the hottest times of the day, staying hydrated by drinking water regularly, and resting in the shade.

Athletes and others who spend time outside should avoid being outside in the hottest parts of the day, drink water regularly and rest in the shade.

Never leave children or pets in the car. When the temperature outside a car is 72°F, the temperature inside the car can reach 117°F within 60 minutes.

Getting swamp coolers/air conditioners serviced.

Applying for Low Income Energy Assistance to help cover the host of using air conditioners.

Keeping window shades drawn during the day to help keep the heat out.

Planting trees in your yard.

Using appliances early in the day or at night when there is less strain on the electrical grid.

Having a plan to get somewhere with air conditioning, such as a library or friend’s house especially for older adults and people with medical needs.

Older adults and people taking medications should talk to their doctor about medications that make it harder for the body to cool itself in hot weather. These include many common medications such as diuretics, antidepressants, antipsychotics, antihistamines and some heart and high blood pressure medicines.

Helping people who have limited capacity to understand how to avoid heat-related illness.

Staff Reports