How to prevent and avoid heat-related illness in Alabama heat

CBS 42 Living Local

This CBS 42 Living Local post is sponsored by Medical West

HUEYTOWN, Ala. (CBS 42 Living Local)-  In Alabama, we (unfortunately) have the perfect conditions during the summertime to cause heat-related illnesses. We spoke with Dr. LaShaundra Thedford-Smith about ways to avoid heat-related illness this summer. 


“In the United States, each year at least about 600 people and up to maybe 1500 people die from heat-related illnesses. So that is significant, especially when we are in a high-risk zone like Alabama,” said Thedford-Smith. 

The CDD recommends staying cool, hydrated, and informed. People who are at the highest risk for heat-related illnesses are children younger than four, adults older than 65,  people on blood pressure medicine, diuretic, psychotropic medications, or have Parkinson’s Disease are at higher risk. 

One of the best things you can do this summer is to stay hydrated. “Water is like your best medicine. Go ahead and take your ‘daily water vitamin’ so your body is hydrated well for the summertime,” Thedford-Smith said. 

Heat rash and muscle cramping are some of the first signs that you are too hot.

“That’s a time to pull out of the heat. Start taking sips of water slowly and rehydrate. Another phase would be going into heat exhaustion. That is when a person is just not quite themselves at that moment in time. That would be a time, once again, to retreat out of the heat and put the person in a cool place and start to rehydrate slowly to get your body temperature down,” said Thedford-Smith. “The scary one is heat stroke.”


Heat stroke can cause permanent brain damage and multiple organ failure. Symptoms to watch out for are nausea, vomiting, altered mental status, erratic behavior, and sometimes seizures. That’s when the body is likely over 103 degrees.

“That’s when we dial 911 and urgently try to remove the person from the heat. Put them in an immediate cooling situation,” Thedford-Smith said. 

Dr. Thedford-Smith says that even just a few hours inside an air-conditioned building can go a long way in preventing heat-related illness. 

On extremely hot days, your city may open public cooling centers. Stay informed for yourself and also check on your neighbors and the elderly.

Find Dr. Thedford-Smith at the Medical West Hueytown Health Center or online at MedicalWestHospital.org.

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