MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — As temperatures climb into the triple digits, local doctors are warning the community to take precautions to protect themselves from heat-related illnesses.

Doctors from Tidelands Health in Myrtle Beach said they are starting to see a slight increase in health-related illnesses in the Grand Strand.

Dr. Sean Nguyen at Tidelands Health said the types of patients he’s seeing are suffering from dehydration and heat exhaustion.

Heat waves are the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. High temperatures on average cause more fatalities than other kinds of dangerous weather events, like floods or tornadoes. Six hundred people in the nation are killed by extreme heat every year.

“I think people underestimate how hot it is, and how they are overheating, just usually doing yard work the way they would usually do but in 90-degree weather, it’s different when it’s super-hot. So, we talked about staying hydrated before, you know not trying to do it after an unfortunate event when try to drink water to catch up. It is a little bit too late at that point,” Nguyen said.

Heat-related illnesses can be life-threatening, shutting down organs or worsen preexisting conditions. 

People at higher risk of a heat-related illness are infants and children up to 4 years old, as well as people older than 65, and people with existing medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.

“We have seen a lot of the elderly population coming in, and I think the older population who have the heart disease, diabetes, I think some of them are just being drained quicker,” Nguyen said. “Going outside and just doing normal yard work, just a walk to the mailbox and just going outside, that on top of their heart problems it just adds more stress that is not usually there.”

He advises becoming hydrated 15 minutes to 30 minutes before beginning activity, and to wear lighter clothes, stay covered in sunscreen and take breaks throughout the day.