CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – As the extreme heat drags into the month of September, we’re often warned of the physical dangers of prolonged sun exposure.

During the summer we tend to spend more time outside under the hot sun and being exposed to the heat for an extended period of time can put you in danger. People are susceptible to heat-related illnesses and the symptoms can be very serious.

“I think two of the most common ones that we hear are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion is where you have muscle cramps, you may feel a little dehydrated, you’re sweating a lot and it can later process to heat stroke which is a little more serious, and a medical emergency,” said Sunny Shukla, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Baystate Noble Hospital.

Both heat exhaustion and heat stroke are caused by your body’s inability to cool itself. If you overwork your body when it’s hot outside, or even inside, your body may have difficulty producing enough sweat to keep you cool.

“I think it’s important to stay hydrated in periods of time when you can. Take a break, try to sit in some shade. People who are 65 or really young small amount of heat exposure can really have a big impact on their health,” said Shukla.

Baystate Health is seeing an up tick in hospital visits because people aren’t hydrating themselves properly.

“We’re seeing a lot of people who are getting dehydrated easier. Not everyone has access to a cooling center or an air condition in their house, people are coming in dehydrated and it’s sometimes when you dehydrate, it can lead to low blood pressure and that’s not a safe situation for most patients,” said Shukla.

In order to avoid heat-related illness, it is important to keep your body as cool as you can. Wearing light-colored clothing if you plan to be outdoors and making sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day are some of the best steps you can take to stay safe in this heat.

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