100-degree heat means more ice cream, sweet tea — and ER visits

Record-breaking temperatures dangerous for people who work outside

As the Jacksonville area deals with triple-digit temperatures and high humidity, people are trying to find ways to beat the heat.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the Jacksonville area deals with triple-digit temperatures and high humidity, people are trying to find ways to beat the heat.

Forecasted highs in the River City are at 101 degrees with a feels-like temperature up to 116 degrees.

While the high heat is uncomfortable for most, it’s dangerous to those who work outside or are homeless.

Rodney Watson felt the heat Thursday as he landscaped at his church in Springfield.

“I don’t know how hot it is, but I know it’s hot,” he said, wiping sweat off his brow. “It feels like 200. It feels like about 200 because you could crack an egg on the ground.”

Landscaper Rodney Watson (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4JAX - All rights reserved.)

Rico Contreras, who runs his RC Hot Dawgs business from a cart across from UF Health Jacksonville hospital, kept pushing through under the shade of a popup tent.

Despite the blistering temperatures, the line for his hot dogs was still long at lunchtime. His famous teas and lemonade were hot sellers.

Rico Contreras at RC Beef Dawgs (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4JAX - All rights reserved.)

Traci Fasanelli is a personal trainer who usually exercises with her clients under the open skies -- but thought twice about that today.

“Because the heat index is so high -- but we decided to give it a whirl anyway,” Fasanelli said.

Late in the day, we didn’t find many people at Sunshine Park in Jacksonville Beach. We did, however, find some women playing volleyball on the sand.

“The weather’s always part of the sport. so the hotter it gets — obviously, the sand gets really hot, so we have what we call sand socks,” explained Madilyn McCarty. “We give the girls plenty of water breaks.”

Doctors warn people to be careful when outside.

“We see more patients around lunchtime, the middle of the day when the sun is highest,” said Dr. Andrew Schmidt, an emergency medicine physician at UF Health Jacksonville in Springfield.

He said days like this bring an increase in patients. He sees more people with heat-related illnesses that are potentially deadly if they are not treated early. Landscapers, construction workers and those without a home are more susceptible to illness.

“Heat exhaustion is kind of just being tired, not being able to do what you want to do,” he said. “Heatstroke is when people actually start acting abnormal. What we call altered mental status. And it becomes very dangerous because at that point if you don’t have someone looking over you, you start making poor decisions.”

He points out it’s important to get this person into air conditioning, at least the shade, and stay hydrated. If they’re disoriented or unconscious, he said call 911.

Dr. Andrew Schmidt at the UF Health Jacksonville emergency department (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4JAX - All rights reserved.)

The city of Jacksonville opened 12 senior centers as cooling places. City leaders also pointed out public libraries can be a place to cool off. There are 21 in Duval County. The city’s 20 public pools and 16 splash pads were also popular.

LIST: Here’s where you can cool off in Jacksonville during extreme heat

It raises the question: are people buying more ice cream because it’s so hot outside?

“I mean it’s also really good,” said Springfield Scoops employee Mekdes Browning. “So they’ve got both options. It’s really hot and it’s really good.”

Business at the family-owned shop on Main Street was steady throughout the day.

About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.