As Madison and surrounding areas continue under a heat advisory through Friday, city officials reminded residents to keep safe while in the sun.
According to Madison Fire Department Medical Director Michael Lohmeier, heat-related illnesses can creep up quickly and have serious health implications.
“[They’re] one of those things that you can get quite ill quite quickly and not realize how sick you are at the time,” Lohmeier said.
Heat sickness can range in seriousness from exhaustion to heat stroke and include just as broad a range of symptoms, including altered states of consciousness and even seizures.
Madisonian Andy Lindgren had a brush with heat exhaustion nearly 20 years ago while in Navy boot camp, and he said he has never forgotten it.
“It was a really weird feeling, I guess you could say,” Lindgren said of the experience. “It cane on pretty quickly, actually. It’s like, I was feeling fine for a while, and then I felt nauseous, and then I felt dizzy, and all of a sudden I left like I was going to pass out. It goes quick.”
Lindgren said he was out marching all day without drinking water when the illness came on. According to Lohmeier, people working outside during hot days are some of the most susceptible to become victims of heat-related sicknesses, along with the very old and very young.
There are ways to combat heat exhaustion and heat stroke, including wearing lightweight clothing and keeping hydrated. Lindgren said the latter preventative measure is one he takes seriously after his experience with heat exhaustion.
“Because of that, I always carry water with me,” Lindgren said. “I don’t want to experience that again. It was not a fun feeling.”
The Department of Health Services said last year 27 people died in Wisconsin as a result of heat-related issues. This year, one heat-related death in Wisconsin has been reported and that was last month in Juneau County.
State officials urge neighbors to check on elderly residents, especially those without air conditioning. People without air conditioning are urged to stay with friends or family members who have it or seek out like senior centers, malls and libraries.