May 31, 2011 -- Scorching temperatures in many areas over Memorial Day weekend sent several people to emergency rooms for heat overexposure. Baltimore; Laredo, Texas; Lousiville, Ky.; and and Raleigh, N.C., all tied record high temperatures Monday, and more heat is on the way.
Air conditioning and portable air conditioners can get expensive, so what are things you can 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?
"The hottest part of the country will be the mid-Atlantic, or the corridor from Philadelphia to South Carolina," Tom Kines, senior meteorologist at Accuweather, told ABC News. "Temperatures will be in the mid to upper 90s, and could reach 100 degrees in some areas."
In Washington, D.C., Monday, 20 people were taken to hospitals for heat-related emergencies during the Washington Memorial Day parade and the National's baseball game, D.C. fire officilas told ABC Washington affiliate WJLA.
Many residents blamed the humidity, which can inhibit the body's ability to cool itself through sweating. "It's a lot of moisture -- you take a shower and get out and you feel like you need another shower because it is brutal," Linda Merriweather, a Maryland resident, told WJLA.
As temperatures rise this summer, Dr. William P. Bozeman, an associate professor of emergency medicine and emergency services director at Wake Forest University, shared some tips with ABC News that will help you keep cool, 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 cautions 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
Be aware of the heat. Pay attention to it and modify your activities appropriately.
Pay attention to your hydration status, and be sure to drink plenty of fluids.
Try to stay in relatively cool areas, even when outside. Many public places such as libraries, shopping malls and movie theatres are air conditioned.
Avoid hot enclosed places, such as cars. Never leave children unattended in a car parked in the sun.
Use a fan, if available.
Stay on the lowest floor of your building.
Eat well-balanced, light and regular meals.
Wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing.
Cover windows that receive a significant amount of sun with drapes or shades to help keep your house cool.
Weather stripping and proper insulation will keep cool air inside your home.
Cool beverages are good for cooling down the body, while alcoholic drinks can impair the body's ability to regulate its temperature.
8 Signs of Heat Oveexposure
Heavy sweating. But if heat stroke sets in, the body can no longer compensate and stops sweating.
Feeling tired and weak
Altered mental status (confusion or disorientation)
Becoming semi-conscious, or passing out.
Nausea or vomiting
6 First Steps to take After Recognizing Heat-Induced Illness
Get the person out of the sun and into a cool area. An air-conditioned area is ideal, but moving someone into the shade will also help.
Apply water to help the person cool off.
Apply ice to the neck or armpits, where large blood vessels are close to the surface.
Remove any heavy clothing
Immerse the body in cool water, either at a swimming pool or in a bathtub.