Mon. Sep 25th, 2023

As record-challenging temps continue in West Texas, several heat safety tips are important to know. Alcohol consumption, medications and hot cars are a few dangers.

ODESSA, Texas — With the record-challenging heat that West Texans have been experiencing as of late looking like it will only continue moving forward, there are heat-related risks that might not be obvious. 

The summer heat is oppressive, and it brings with it subtle dangers that can be harmful.

Alcohol consumption involved with outdoor activities can leave a person dehydrated and at risk for severe heat illnesses. 

“Alcohol can really affect your body’s ability to self-regulate its temperature,” said Brian Kendall M.D., with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. “So, if all you’re doing is drinking alcohol, then you will become more dehydrated, and that can lead to you being more at risk of developing heat exhaustion, heat stroke; more at risk of developing systems of dehydration and severe dehydration with issues surrounding, again, your cardiac — or heart — function, your kidney function, your brain function, so very important to stay well-hydrated when you’re out in the heat.”

Diuretics and some medications can also lead to dehydration. The physical medication is also impacted by the heat, meaning its effectiveness could be reduced.

“One thing you want to think about is the storage conditions of the medications themselves, so that they don’t degrade or become less effective because they’ve been exposed to extreme conditions such as heat,” said Dr. Rebecca Sleeper with TTUHSC. 

Glove compartments are an area that should be avoided when storing medication. The interior of one’s car is a danger zone in the heat for those inside of it. 

“Whether that’s a child or a pet, and people leaving those — either those pets or those children — in their car while they’re just running in real quick to go into the store, or you know, just ‘oh, I had to just go get something, you know from my friend real quick, and I was gonna come right back,’ they turn their car off, they close the doors, and the temperatures in that car can elevate extremely fast,” said Kendall.

Kendall noted that the temperature in one’s car can get over 120 degrees F, which can begin causing significant bodily issues. 

If drinking alcohol is a plan outside in the heat, it is key to drink plenty of water as well to stay hydrated. 

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