The heat is more than uncomfortable, it can pose serious health threats

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A triple-digit heat index is more than just uncomfortable. This hot weather can be downright dangerous. Doctors say that’s especially true for people in certain categories: The very young; the elderly; and people who have trouble breathing even on a normal day.

“The heat just makes everything more difficult on the body,” according to Dr. Kenneth Robinson, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Hartford Hospital. “The heart has to work harder to cool, it’s more difficult to breathe, especially with the humidity.”

This kind of weather also traps particulates and ozone, what we usually call smog, down in the lower atmosphere where we are. The state’s air Quality Index shows orange, which means “unhealthy for sensitive groups” for several cities and towns, including Groton, Madison, Middletown and New Haven. Those sensitive groups now include people who caught COVID in the last year and a half.

“Patients who were previously infected with COVID who are still having inflammation in their lungs making it more difficult for them to breathe,” Dr. Robinson said. “They would definitely have a more difficult time during this excessive heat.”

Little kids’ bodies are so small that they are affected by the heat more than grown-ups. Keep an eye on them in case they feel tired or sick. It’s when they stop sweating that you really have to worry. That’s a sign of heatstroke. The elderly have trouble regulating their body temperatures as well, But doctors say everybody needs to take precautions when it’s this hot out.

“The usual things that we say are drink plenty of fluids, stay out of the direct sun as much as you can,” said Dr. Robinson. “If you have to work outside, then schedule in breaks every 20 minutes or 30 minutes.”

Schedule outdoor exercise for early or late in the day, if you can. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, and even though it is a beautiful sunny day, the healthiest thing you can do is stay inside in the air conditioning.

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