July 21, 2011— -- As record temperatures continue to bake the country's midsection, heat-related hospital visits are on the rise.
Excessive heat warnings are in effect for a large swath the central United States, according to the National Weather Service. And the scorching temperatures are expected to linger for the next couple weeks.
Central air conditioning and portable air conditioners can get expensive, so what can you do to avoid the heat? Can you recognize the signs of heat exhaustion? And would you know what to do if someone started to show symptoms of it?
Dr. William P. Bozeman, an associate professor of emergency medicine and the emergency services director at Wake Forest University, shared some tips with ABC News that will help you keep cool and recognize the signs of heat overexposure, and the steps to take if you experience those symptoms or see them in someone else. The Federal Emergency Management Agency also has a list of protective and first aid measures for heat-induced illnesses.
"Amazingly, the human race survived for several million years prior to the advent of air conditioning," Bozeman told ABC News.
He cautioned that it is important to be aware of the temperature. Temperatures in the 90s and higher are dangerous, and become more dangerous the higher they go and the longer they last. The very young and the very old are at the highest risk, as their weight and age can impair their ability to handle high temperatures.
12 Tips for Staying Cool This Summer
8 Signs of Heat Overexposure
6 First Steps to Take After Recognizing Heat-Induced Illness