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Forecasters predicted hotter-than-average conditions across the United States this summer, and the predictions have proven accurate here in the Barstow area. As summer temperatures soar, people of all ages need to take precautions during the scorching heat.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1,220 people in the United States die each year because of extreme heat. Some are more vulnerable than others, including children, athletes, pregnant women, and individuals who are chronically ill, obese, have heart or lung conditions, use drugs or alcohol, or have disabilities or conditions such as mental illness, poor circulation, or diabetes.

Heat-related illnesses can span from rashes to dehydration and life-threatening heat strokes. Here are some of the common symptoms to pay attention to this summer:

  • Heat rash: Pimple-like blisters can form when sweat gets trapped in the skin.
  • Heat cramps: Involuntary muscle spasms in the abdomen, arms, and calves can occur from a loss of salt and water through exercise.
  • Heat exhaustion: The hallmark signs include pale and clammy skin, pulse changes, and nausea. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke.
  • Heat stroke: This life-threatening illness occurs when body temperature rises to about 104 degrees, and the body loses its ability to cool off by sweating. Other symptoms include confusion, hot, dry skin, vomiting, profuse sweating, seizures, and loss of consciousness.

“Heat stroke can be fatal if it’s not treated right away,” explained Dr. Anthony Cardillo, Emergency Department Medical Director at Barstow Community Hospital. “During extreme heat, staying hydrated and taking breaks inside can help cool the body down.”

The most effective way to prevent heat-related illness is to stay indoors where it is cool. If a hot day is forecasted, remain inside and out of the sun to minimize heat exposure. Here are additional strategies to help everyone, especially those most vulnerable, stay healthy and safe during extreme weather:

  • Stay Shaded: If you are outside, find a tent or shade to block direct sunlight.
  • Plan: Restrict activity to cooler parts of the day and avoid strenuous physical activities during the peak heat.
  • Dress Right: Wear lightweight clothes, hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
  • Eat Light: Enjoy smaller meals and opt for cold fruits or salads.
  • Hydrate: Drink plenty of water before going outside and incorporate electrolytes and salt tablets to help prevent dehydration.
  • Rest Often: Take frequent breaks indoors to get in the air conditioning and let your body recharge.

If you observe someone exhibiting signs of heat stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. Staying informed and vigilant is essential to enjoying a safe and healthy summer despite the extreme heat.

Dr. Anthony Cardillo is the Emergency Department Medical Director at Barstow Community Hospital and a Medical Correspondent for ABC News in Los Angeles.