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Hospitals in one of America's hottest cities are using ice-filled body bags this summer: 'The standard of care to treat heatstroke'

"This is our goal — to improve patient survivability."

"This is our goal – to improve patient survivability."

Photo Credit: iStock

Summer has only just begun, but already we've seen record-breaking heat waves worldwide. With a need to combat heat, innovations are being born.

What's happening?

Phoenix, Arizona, has adopted cold-water immersion to fend off the effects of extreme heat, the Guardian reported. Heat stroke victims are placed in ice-filed bags on their way to the hospital to reduce body temperatures quickly. Phoenix-area hospitals have adopted this as their go-to protocol.

"Just last week, we had a critical patient that we were able to bring back before we walked through the emergency room doors. That's our goal — to improve patient survivability," said John Prato, a Phoenix-area fire captain.

Phoenix saw 31 straight days at or above 110 degrees Fahrenheit last summer, claiming over 400 lives, the Guardian reported. In total, Phoenix saw 54 days at or beyond 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

Why is heat stroke concerning?

Extreme temperature events and heat waves are increasing in frequency and lasting longer. We're also seeing the negative effect of heat waves on mental health.

High temperatures are dangerous because they can cause dehydration and slow blood flow in the body, both of which increase the risk of stroke. Heat stroke can cause permanent disability or death if not treated immediately with first aid to lower body temperature, which is why Phoenix is testing cold-water immersion.

"[Cold-water immersion] is really the standard of care to treat heatstroke patients," Dr. Paul Pugsley told the Guardian.

What is being done to combat extreme heat?

Companies are developing fascinating solutions to keep us cool in our homes and safe outside them. 

The largest virtual power plant, which is able to power homes on stored renewable energy like solar, recently opened in California with promising success. Installing solar panels is also a great option that can shore up your power supply and save you up to $1,500 a year. If you're on a budget, solar shades effectively keep your home cool without constantly running the AC.

The CDC and the National Weather Service recently collaborated on a new tool to provide seven-day nationwide heat forecasts to keep the public more informed.

More safety tips for dealing with high heat include staying in an air-conditioned location as long as possible. And of course, drink plenty of fluids — even if you don't feel thirsty.

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