NCDHHS issues warning over heat-related illness

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As temperatures rise, NCDHHS is warning people to be aware of heat-related illnesses.

"Heat exhaustion and other illnesses are serious, and this is the time of year we start to see heat-related hospitalizations rise," said state health director and chief medical officer Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, in a statement. "Be aware of the risks, pay attention to how you are feeling when you are outside and take steps to protect yourself."

At Helping Hand Mission in Raleigh, executive director Sylvia Wiggins was organizing fan giveaways to help families struggling to stay cool.

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"We're getting calls from people, 'when I get off work, I want to shoot through here and pick up a fan. I don't have one.' We've got people calling (that their) air condition went out, central air burns out, they don't got no way to get it fixed," said Wiggins.

About 200 fans were available as of Friday afternoon, with volunteer Jay James stopping by to deliver one to an older resident, unable to travel.

"It's very important. It's very important to make sure that we can get this to them so that they can feel real cool at this time," said James.

The North Carolina Heat Report said there were 1,042 emergency department visits for heat-related illness from May 1 to July 10. NCDHHS reported men ages 45 to 64 make up a substantial portion of those incidents.

Symptoms of heat-related illness include muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, fainting, headaches, nausea, and vomiting.

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To avoid these symptoms, health officials encourage you to drink plenty of fluids, take breaks indoors if working or engaging in outdoor activities, reduce outdoor activity levels, check on neighbors, and avoid leaving children or pets unattended in vehicles.

Back at Helping Hand Mission, Wiggins is grateful for the support, and hoping to connect with more families.

"We've got plenty of fans thanks to the people that donated. And instead of storing them, we want to get it into homes so they can immediately use it for them and their kids," said Wiggins.
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