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Ben Taub Hospital sees slight uptick in Houston-area patients with heat exhaustion

Hospital workers say there have been no patients who have died from heat-related illness so far, but there has been an increase in dehydration, fatigue and heat exhaustion.

A thermometer reads nearly 120 degrees inside a car. Houston temperatures have averaged over 100 degrees for the past two weeks.
Patricia Ortiz/Houston Public Media
A thermometer reads nearly 120 degrees inside a car. Houston temperatures have averaged over 100 degrees for the past two weeks.

Medical staff at Ben Taub Hospital recommend avoiding the outdoors during peak hours, around 3 p.m. – 7 p.m., as they see a slight uptick in patients with heat-related illness.

"We're seeing a lot of patients with dehydration, a lot of fatigue, a lot of patients just coming in reporting that they don't feel well. And come to find out, it is the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion," ER nurse Jonathan Garcia said.

With temperatures expected to continue to hover at 100 degrees and above, Harris Health's Ben Taub Hospital's emergency doctors and nurses are providing some tips to prevent heat-related illnesses. Garcia said he used to work in construction.

"We couldn't really avoid peak hours, but what we used to do is wear long sleeve shirts, a lot of light colored clothing that was loose, and we would wear hats, we would wear bandanas, to make sure we cover our necks," he said. "And we would just drink water all day long."

Garcia also said parents need to look before they lock their car to make sure a child, a pet, or anyone else isn't left in the back seat.

"Those ten-minute trips to the store could be much longer. The vehicle may turn off," he said.

Temperatures inside a vehicle can reach 20 to 30 degrees hotter than the outdoors within 10 minutes of a vehicle turning off, Garcia said. Medical staff said when someone's body temperature rises over 104 degrees, it's treated as a medical emergency.

Houston police's K-9 Aron died earlier this month from heat exhaustion when a running patrol vehicle shut off while the K-9's partner was away. Houston has been under a heat advisories for the past two weeks.