Wisconsinites survived one of the hottest weeks on record when temperatures soared and heat indexes were in the triple digits.
An excessive heat watch was issued for Grant, Crawford, and Richland County as well during the peak the week of July 15. The surge in the mercury caused cooling centers to open across the area, including in Fennimore at the Memorial Building.
However, according to the Director of the Grant County Health Department Jeff Kindari it isn’t episode of extreme heat that are causing area residents to come down with heat related illnesses.
“The data doesn’t lie, the people we are seeing are not who we’d expect,” Kindari said. “It isn’t the elderly and very young on extremely hot days as much as it used to be. Many middle aged people are going in to the emergency room with symptoms of over exertion or heat exhaustion or heat stroke.”
Kindari shared that often times individuals who are other wise seemingly young healthy who experience heat related illnesses do so under a number of factors.
“People may be out over exerting themselves in the sun, alcohol may be a factor, or just not hydrating,” Kindari said. “It doesn’t have to be the hottest day of the year to get sick if you’re not properly hydrated.”
In a study conducted between the Minnesota and Wisconsin departments of Health it was also found that men are more likely to suffer from heat related illness than women.
“Men are about twice as likely to visit the emergency department for heat-related illness as women” The study released in May of 2019 stated. “We learned that in our states, men were more likely than women to report to the emergency department with heat related illness. While we don’t know precisely why this is, it could be related to specific occupations. In Wisconsin heat illness was related to workers’ compensation payments.”
The study also showed that both Crawford and grant were above average in terms of cases of heat-related illness.
“Counties with higher heat index generally had more cases of heat related illness,” the Health departments noted of the study. “When we looked at the average maximum heat index in a county, we found there were more cases of heat-related illness. Logically, it makes sense that the hotter it is, the more people get sick from the heat.
The study also found that as a whole, heat related illnesses are significantly higher in rural areas than metropolitan.
The Wisconsin Department of Health advises all to get cool or help immediately if you are experiencing dizziness, headache, muscle cramps, weakness, nausea or vomiting. If you are experiencing hot, dry skin, confusion, unconsciousness, chest pain or shortness of breath, you are advised to call 911.
The department also advises individuals to be aware of your surroundings during the heat.
“Beware of hot cars. Never leave a child, person with a disability or elderly persons or pets in a parked car, even for a short time. On a 80 degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach 100 degrees in less than 10 minutes. Check on your neighbors as well. In an extreme heat event, check to make sure your neighbors are okay, and look for signs of heat-related illness, especially of the person is elderly or lives alone.”
Kindari noted that fans or air conditioning units may he available through Southwest Cap or the Health Department for low income individuals who may need them.
Cooling Centers also open through out the state during extreme heat events. Individuals can call 211 to find immediate information about cooling centers. The Health Department also notes that places like libraries and places of worship can also serve as cooling centers.