Health Dept. officials monitoring ERs during heat advisory

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee County is under a heat advisory — issued by the National Weather Service when the heat index rises to between 105 and 115 degrees for at least three hours for one or two days. This is causing concern for Milwaukee County health officials because the heat wave is expected to stick around.

Paul Biedrzycki is the Milwaukee Health Department’s Disease Control and Environmental Health Director. Biedrzycki was busy Tuesday, July 3rd monitoring emergency room activity.

As temperatures rise, more people show up to be treated for heat-related illnesses in emergency rooms.

In fact, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office has reported two recent deaths are heat related.

The first heat-related death happened on Monday, June 18. Dorothy Townes was found dead in the backyard of her home near 40th and Orchard on Milwaukee’s west side.

The Medical Examiner’s report says Townes had contact with a Milwaukee police officer earlier in the day but declined any medical assistance. There were no signs of trauma.

The second heat-related death was reported on Thursday, June 21. 60-year-old Jay Kuzel was found dead in his rooming house room on Windlake Ave. His core temperature was 110 degrees.

“Unfortunately, every time we have episodes of sustained duration — 3-4 days in length, unfortunately we tend to see heat-related deaths and those tend to lag the event by one to two days,” Biedrzycki said.

Biedrzycki says with the heat advisory falling during the Fourth of July holiday, it’s likely more people will be exposed to the heat.

“Potentially many people could feel the impact of the extreme heat event,” Biedrzycki said.

Officials say those highly susceptible to heat, such as the very young, very old and those taking certain medications should avoid prolonged heat exposure.

Bertha Troutman at the McGovern Senior Center said she planned to do just that.

“I go from my door to my garage and get in my car. Then, I come here and get out of my car and come in here,” Troutman said.

Biedrzycki advises people to check on those who may be vulnerable and prepare for the extreme heat.

“Common sense precautions include drink plenty of water, avoid large amounts of caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, wear loose-fitting clothing, seek shaded and air-conditioned areas,” Biedrzycki said.

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