How to avoid heat-related illnesses this Memorial Day weekend

MARTIN, TN — Summer isn’t technically here yet, but you’ve probably already begun your summer festivities on the lake and by the pool. Olivia Koutsalas is spending her first summer in Martin, Tennessee, after moving from Colorado. 

“It’s a cute little town. I like it here. It’s like something you see out of a movie. I’m very excited,” Koutsalas said. 

The Koutsalas family is excited to spend their first summer in Martin. Koutsalas’ daughter, Jeniya, is done with school and wants to spend every day outside. Koutsalas is making sure her daughter is prepared to face the heat.

“Lots of water. She’ll drink a couple of water bottles. She’s in and out, (like) the famous saying ‘Don’t run in and out,’ but when it’s hot out, the kids are in and out getting water,” Koutsalas said.

She is prepared, too. She brought her umbrella. “It was raining here the other day, and I was walking over here, and I was like, ‘Wow, the sun is really beaming down,’ so I remembered I had my uncle’s umbrella in the car,” Koutsalas said.

Working for Weakley County EMS, Jason Russell responds to hundreds of calls during the summer for heat exhaustion. He said one of the most important things you can do is take breaks in the shade and stay hydrated.

“Severe dehydration can mess with the heart,” Russell said. “It greatly affects the kidneys, and of course as you know, if you stop sweating, that’s the very mark of dehydration. So please drink plenty of water.”

Koutsalas will be sure to keep cool this summer. “Even wearing sweatpants — just some long pants just to cover up — is still going to keep you cool versus always wearing shorts,” Koutsalas said.

Weakley County paramedics say on days with high humidity, be sure to drink three to four liters of water, even when the sun goes down. Paramedics also want to remind you — if you have a child 3 or younger, don’t have them out in the sun for more than an hour. That’s because their bodies heat up much faster than adults’ do.