The weekend of the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival and the OVAC Football Game historically brings as many as 100,000 people into Wheeling.
And it’s also historically sizzling hot.
With temperatures predicted in the 90s and a heat index in the triple digits, there are some real health concerns at these events.
So we checked with the experts about how to stay healthy in the heat.
OVAC football players have practiced this week as the heat ramps up, and hydration has been a big priority in their training.
At the Italian Festival, both the workers and the patrons face the sizzling heat from the pavement and from the grills along the midway.
“Stay hydrated,” urges Festival Chairman Ron Castellucci. “Take plenty of breaks. Find a shade tree. There’s a nice breeze that blows off of that river from one end of the festival to the other.”
Dr. Matt Lee, medical director of Wheeling Hospital’s emergency department, says the first problem that sets in is heat exhaustion.
“There is profuse sweating, your heart rate may climb some, dizziness and even muscle cramps can happen whenever heat exhaustion is starting to set in,” said Dr. Lee.
He urges everyone to recognize the signs, whether you’re on the gridiron or standing at the grill, and stop what you’re doing.
“You need to shut it down, get out of the heat, get some Gatorade or some kind of rehydrating drink and call it an afternoon,” he said.
He said if you don’t cool off, it can progress to the next more dangerous phase–heat stroke.
“These patients are no longer able to sweat because their body is no longer able to take care of itself at that time,” Dr. Lee noted. “So they don’t sweat, they’re confused, and they can develop a really high fever as well.”
Dr. Lee says heat stroke patients need to go straight to the emergency room.
He urges people out in the heat to periodically step into the shade, wear a cooling scarf, drink lots of water and take breaks in the air conditioning.
“If you can find shade, that’s where I’ll be!” Dr. Lee said.