Heat-related injuries on the rise as temperatures hit record highs


It’s not even summer yet, but we’re already seeing record high heat.

Wednesday’s high temperatures at the Honolulu International Airport tied the record of 90 degrees set back in 1995.

Doctors say it’s not something we should take lightly.

“My thoughts are it’s pretty uncomfortable,” said Waialua resident Matt Brown. “In fact already today I’ve changed two shirts already,”

Since Saturday, the temperatures have matched that record high three times.

A doctor KHON2 spoke with says he’s seen a lot more people getting sick because of the heat.

“You can predict it pretty well. If there is a period of time of three to four days of increased heat, we will see more patients with it guaranteed,” said Dr. Howie Klemmer with the Queen’s Medical Center.

Klemmer is referring to heat-related illness, which range from heat exhaustion, heat fatigue and heat stroke, none of which should be taken lightly.

“It’s a spectrum of illness, so you will see heat illness like heat fatigue or heatstroke is considered the most severe form,” said Klemmer.

So what are the symptoms and what can you do to stay healthy?

Doctors say the symptoms for heat exhaustion includes fatigue, dizziness, nausea or a headache, but complications can become much worse for someone with heat stroke, including confusion or even loss consciousness. The person can even die if not treated.

“They may not be able to sweat anymore because they are so dehydrated, so they cant cool themselves down by sweating,” said Dr. Klemmer. “That’s really the end of the spectrum of disease and when it is lethal.”

Keeping hydrated is the best defense against higher temperatures as well as keeping in the shade when temperatures are at their peak.

Klemmer says he has already seen an increase in numbers to people suffering from heat-related illnesses and he does expect more if temperatures increase.

KHON2 also checked with City Mill in Kaimuki, which notes that fans have been flying off the shelves.

In addition to keeping yourself hydrated during hot temperatures, pet owners should also keep an eye out for their four-legged friends, especially while hiking.

In an earlier KHON2 report, a pet owner lost a dog from heat stroke after hiking the Lanikai Pillbox trail. A windward Oahu veterinarian says it happens more often than you think.

If you go hiking with your dog, gauge your pet’s fitness level and don’t take them out in the middle of the day. Also, dogs with short noses are more vulnerable to heat exhaustion.

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