Hydration key to weathering heat wave

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — While it was nearing 90 in Grand Rapids’ Calder Plaza Wednesday afternoon, that’s cool compared to inside Lauren D’Angelo’s Patty Melt food truck.

“We top out in the truck at between 125 and 130 degrees,” said D’Angelo as she slapped another sandwich on the grill.

D’Angelo takes precautions to keep her and the rest of her crew from baking while they cook.

“We have electrolyte water, we have moist towelettes in the cooler for people to wipe their faces with, I have unlimited water for our staff to drink,” she said.

At their LaGrave Avenue station, Grand Rapids firefighters prepared to battle the heat on two fronts, from the fires they fight to the wearable gear protecting them from the flames.

“It’s essentially like wearing an oven mitt,” said Lt. Bill Smith.

Firefighters will wear lighter clothing under their turnout gear during the heat wave.

At the scene, they’ll also get extra help to allow them more breaks, and medical personnel will be checking them for heat exhaustion.

And each of Grand Rapids firehouse is getting extra drinking water.

“We encourage our firefighters to drink a lot of water and sports drinks once they’re on scene to make sure they don’t have any issues that’s going to compromise their well-being,” said Smith.

That’s some news everyone could use during this heat wave. Experts say hydration and limiting activity are the keys to keeping safe.

“So for kids especially, for every 10 minutes of activity, they should have a gulp of water,” explained Jennifer Hoekstra, an injury prevention specialist with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

Hoekstra says adults, who tend to be more active in this weather, should double that to two gulps every 10 minutes. And don’t wait until you go outside for that first water.

“A good half-hour before you are participating in any activity, you really should take a tall, 12-ounce glass of water as an adult, so that you have that in your system. And always keep refueling as the day goes on,” said Hoekstra.

She says people should steer clear of alcohol and sugary drinks like pop, which can dehydrate. Another rule: a cool drink is good, but an ice cold drink is not.

“If you go extremely cold beverages, it could cause stomach cramps, which makes you not want to drink, which then can lead to more dehydration,” said Hoekstra.

She suggests limiting outside activities to 30 minutes and paying attention to the signs the heat may be getting to you.

“What you’re watching for is that kind of lack of sweat. You’re looking for that tiredness, that confusion, dizziness,” Hoekstra listed.

If you feel these symptoms, get inside to cool off.

“That means take a shower, put a cool cloth on your forehead, on the back of your neck, your arms, legs. If it doesn’t get better after that, you need to call. You need to call your health care provider,” Hoekstra advised.

A top tip: take it easy.

D’Angelo’s makes sure employees follow that rule, even if it means a longer line at the truck.

“Whenever they need a break, they great a break. If the customer has to wait, they have to wait,” she said.

If you’re having a problems in the heat, call United Way’s 211 line for support. Emergency Management officials in Kent County will be monitoring calls coming in to 211, so they can respond to situations.

Cooling centers are also available throughout West Michigan.

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