With the rising temperatures we're seeing this summer season, people need to be prepared when going outside.
Although there are plenty of solutions to dealing with the side-effects of lounging in the heat, preventing them from occurring is the best form of action.
But, sometimes people don't know the risks they're getting themselves into, and the consequences can be grave.
Sadly, one couple is all too aware of the dangers of the summer's rising temperatures, after their autistic son passed away from heat exhaustion.
On July 11, 18-year-old Elijah Mikel and his caretaker were enjoying a nature trail in Lawrence, Kansas, when he felt ill in the 102-degree weather and couldn't stand back up. Although they were only outside for 15 minutes, the caretaker immediately called his parents, and they rushed to the scene.
"[Elijah was] sitting on ground and propped up against the tree. He was slumped over and his eyes were rolled back into his head," his mother, Rachel said. "My heart stopped."
Rachel's husband, who's a nurse, arrived soon after and "screamed" when he saw the state of the teen.
"When he lost it I knew it was bad," the mother of three added.
After first responders arrived at Clinton Lake 30 minutes later, they discovered Elijah's temperature had risen to 108.8, but their efforts to drop it became futile, and Eljiah died of heat exhaustion later that day.
"I remember looking at the nurse saying, 'Why? He was just hot. He was just hot,'" Rachel said when recalling the devastating news.
According to Dr. Steve Lauer, the University of Kansas Health System Associate Chair of Pediatrics, when your body's temperature surpasses 104 degrees, the heat will wear quickly wear out your muscles, including your heart.
"Being outside in the heat… it really is hard on the body. No matter what age you are, you can get overheated very quickly, and the move from heat exhaustion to heat stroke can happen a whole lot faster than many people appreciate," Lauer said.
Some symptoms of heat exhaustion include faintness, dizziness, heavy sweating, a weak pulse and fatigue, but in Eljiah's case, his heart completely stopped working.
"Drink water. Take a break. Go inside," Rachel told WDAF. "This is not a joke. It`s not something that happens to other people. This is real. He was 18 and fairly healthy. So just be cautious.”
Even though Elijah had autism and was non-verbal, Rachel said he knew "how to have fun and bring joy to others."
"I want to stress the autism didn’t define him. He was special regardless. You just never know somebody else’s story," Rachel said. "We often had people stare and look and watch us and sometimes have people comment, 'can’t you keep your kid quiet?'"
"And I think something I want everyone to know is you just don’t know other people’s stories and how hard we worked just to get him to say two or three words," she continued. "It was a challenge we lived with, but it made us love him more and it made us realize how precious life was."
For more warnings to keep in mind during summertime, check out what can happen in these serious situations:
- Grandmother Posts Warning About Life Vest That Nearly Drowned Toddler
- Father Warns About The Risks Of Drinking Cold Water When You're Overheated
- Mom Sends Out Warning About Indoor Heatstroke After 3-Year-Old Almost Died