With extreme heat on its way, and large crowds of athletes and spectators expected in Spokane and northern Idaho this weekend for Hoopfest and Ironman Coeur d’Alene, health experts are warning the community that hot weather can be more than just uncomfortable—it can pose a threat to people’s lives.
People who exercise in extreme heat are more likely to become dehydrated and develop heat-related illness, including heat stroke which occurs when the body is no longer able to regulate its temperature. If not treated immediately, heat stroke can lead to death or permanent disability.
Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop within hours of exposure to high temperatures and not drinking enough fluids.
For both athletes and spectators, it is important to stop all activity and get to a cool environment if feeling faint or weak. Also, know the signs of heat-related illness and the simple things people can do -- like drinking plenty of water -- to reduce their risk.
“Heat-related illness is preventable, so we highly encourage athletes and fans to educate themselves on how to recognize and prevent it,” said Dr. Joel McCullough, Spokane Regional Health District health officer. “The key here is to drink before, during and after outdoor activity. If athletes or spectators are already thirsty before heading outside, they are already on their way to dehydration.”