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HEALTHWATCH: How to recognize and prevent heat-related illness'

FORT WALTON BEACH - It's hot, it's humid, and student athletes are hitting the practice field hard. Every year, an average of three athletes die from heat stroke.     
In this Healthwatch report, learn how to recognize and prevent heat-related illness.

Laura Hussey says, "Coaches and trainers here at Fort Walton Beach High School know that heat-related illness is a spectrum....on one end, relatively minor symptoms like                   swollen feet and muscle cramps. On the other end, heat exhaustion and life-threatening heat stroke"

They're not here to sit on the bench. But in high heat and humidity, players can quickly push too far.

FWB High School football player Nick Quinn says "I'll see guys come of the field who just are not sweating anymore, they have nothing left to sweat out. All their salt's gone, their fluids, and they sit there on the bench, they won't get water 'cause they can't get up, their bodies are cramping"

Those are all signs of heat illness....signs anyone in the heat needs to watch for.
Emergency room physician Dr. Robert Hamilton of Sacred Heart on the Emerald Coast says, "Simple things like dizziness, weakness, nausea and vomiting, headaches, very often a very early sign."   

Dr. Hamilton says athletes need to hydrate two hours before exercising, and keep drinking while they work out.

Fort Walton Beach High School Coach Mike Owens orders water breaks every half-hour. He watches for low energy and loss of concentration.

Coach Owens says, "You know, you can kind of tell they're getting sluggish. That's the time they need to sit out, water up."

If heat illness advances to heat exhaustion, Dr. Hamilton says people get confused, and lose coordination. Actual heatstroke is a neurological emergency where the temperature is usually 105 or above.

Dr. Hamilton says, "If you have signs of heatstroke, the most important thing to do is to cool off first, and get sent to a hospital, transport second"

Laura Hussey says, "An easy formula to gauge the risk of heat illness is to add together the temperature and the humidity and see if the number is over 160. Right now, at 88 degrees and 75 percent humidity, we're in the danger zone." 
   
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