Heat Illnesses Spike in the Basin

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - The West Texas summer can be brutal. Triple digit temperatures with hardly a cloud to shield the sun's rays.

Enough heat can make you sick and a spiking number of West Texans are heading to the hospital.

"Maybe five to seven a week. Maybe one a day, someone will come in," Dr. Jeff Pinnow with Medical Center Hospital, said. "The more severe ones, of course, then get significantly confused and altered and can obviously become comatose and eventually will die."

MCH doctors said the most common patients for heat illness are West Texans whose job it is to labor out in the blazing sun.

Doctors said it starts with drinking enough water.

For the workers of Texas Roof Systems, they're out working with heavy equipment in this triple digit heat and one of the ways they stay cool is to have stations to make sure they never get dehydrated.

After 10 years of roofing, Owner Javier "JB" Bejerano has developed a heat-resistant work schedule.

"Have everyone on the job site around 7 a.m. in the morning and then we try to work at least until 11:30-12:00 p.m. and then we go ahead and send everybody home," he said. "Have the guys come back around 4-4:30 p.m. when it's nice and cool and pretty much shut everything down around 7:00 p.m."

Frequent breaks are just what the doctor ordered because any day over 95 degrees and your body stops releasing heat.

"Your body actually absorbs heat so if you can get into a cooler space for a few minutes every hour, that's going to help tremendously," Pinnow said.

Staying hydrated and taking frequent breaks may be the keys to staying out of hospital bed and staying cool this summer.