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Heat-related emergency calls, hospital visits on the rise in Jacksonville

HCA Florida Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville has seen 37 patients for heat-related illnesses in the last six weeks.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Northeast Florida is on its fifth consecutive day of excessive heat warnings and advisories.

The number of patients making visits to HCA Florida Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville for heat-related illnesses has tripled since this time last year.

The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department responded to 78 heat-related calls in the first week of August alone. In July, they responded to over 200 compared to 155 calls in July 2022.

HCA Family Medicine Hospitalist Dr. Jimmy Dourado says they’ve seen 37 patients for heat-related illnesses in the last six weeks. That’s triple the number from this time last year.

“The symptoms can vary from a variety of things,” Dourado said. “Usually, you have people who have been outside, most commonly, maybe not drinking enough water, so they’ll come in with excessive thirst. They’ll come in with some nausea, vomiting. In some circumstances, you’ll see episodes of people passing out.”

Dourado says these are expressions of dehydration, and while you should stay hydrated, too much water at one time can lower your body’s sodium level and lead to more health issues.

“It’s highly recommended not only that we drink water,” Dourado said, “but also have a balanced diet because then, the body’s able to work with not only being hydrated again, but also having sufficient electrolytes balanced.”

Dourado says people who work in or plan to be in the heat should plan ahead and pre-hydrate.

“Know a place where you can go if you need shade,” Dourado said. “Also, wear loose-fitting clothes. Light colors tend to be helpful better than dark colors and always just keep in mind that if you have any suspicion or any concern that someone may be having heat exhaustion or heat stroke, to call for assistance.”

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