Tips to avoid heat-related illnesses

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NEW YORK (CBS) Temperatures are soaring to dangerous numbers across the country. Doctors are warning everyone it's critical to take care in these sweltering conditions.

The heat is on and temperatures are spiking in many parts of the U.S. Dr. Baruch Fertel is an emergency room doctor at the Cleveland Clinic. He says everyone needs to be on alert for heat exhaustion, which happens when there isn't enough fluid in the body. "Cramping, the body is warm to the touch, decreased sweating, some dizziness, some nausea, not feeling right," Fertel said.

Young children, the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions are the most vulnerable to heat illnesses. Dr. Fertel cautions if you're not careful, it can progress to heat stroke, which is a life threatening medical emergency. Warning signs include temperature of 103 or higher, throbbing headache, confusion, and an altered state. Staying hydrated is key.

"It's important that we use liquids that are hydrating. Salt containing liquids or drinking water with meals that have salt in them are very important to help retain some of that fluid in our body. Sports drinks that have electrolytes can be very helpful. And things we really want to avoid would be alcohol, caffeine beverages," Fertel said.

On these hot days, don't just drink when you are thirsty. If you're thirsty, that could be a sign you are already getting dehydrated. "Keep up with your losses. And one of the ways you can tell is that if you aren't sweaty or if you aren't peeing it means you are probably starting to fall behind," Fertel said.

And taking care in the heat doesn't just apply to people. Pets also need access to plenty of water and should come inside often, because everyone needs to stay hydrated and cool.