PANAMA CITY BEACH, FLA. (WMBB) — As summer temperatures rose past 90 degrees on Friday, the Panama City Beach Fire Department warned residents and visitors to be cautious outside, and to remain cognizant of heat exhaustion.
“You can actually have seizures from a heat stroke,” said Panama City Beach firefighter and paramedic, Trent Poe. “It’s when your core temperature gets over 104 degrees. So you can pass out, become unconscious, have seizures. So that’s a true 911 emergency.”
Children are commonly susceptible to heat exhaustion, Poe said. Children are generally less aware of signals that their bodies are giving them, that they are dehydrated.
“First you have heat cramps,” Poe said. “And then you could go into heat exhaustion and then have a heat stroke.”
Besides cramping, headaches, fast heart rates, fast breathing and confusion are symptoms of heat exhaustion.
While children can suffer from heat exhaustion, elderly adults are also susceptible. Unlike younger adults, elderly adults’ bodies don’t register the symptoms as quickly, Poe said. That can lead someone to being unaware that they are dehydrated, need to drink water and find a shady area to sit down.
“The problems with the Panhandle is the humidity,” Poe said. “So the way your body cools is when it starts to become too hot you sweat. And then your sweat is supposed to evaporate and that cools your body down.”
However, in Bay County humidity, Poe said sweat does not dissipate. Instead it stays on the body and does not cool down someone’s body temperature.
As a result, many visitors to the beaches are unaware of heat exhaustion, leading the fire department to respond to several heat exhaustion calls daily.
If someone is experiencing heat cramping or a heat stroke, they should remove some clothing, find a shady area and place ice packs under their arms, Poe said.