As heat takes hold in NO, doctors warn of health risks

Doctors say they're seeing more heat-related cases in emergency rooms

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The extreme heat this time of the year may be a factor in higher electric bills in Louisiana than some other states - that despite a report that said Louisiana has fourth-lowest electricity prices in the nation.

People in this area know July is synonymous with heat. But some said Tuesday that the summertime heat was a bit too much.

"I think we're getting hotter every year, seems like. Maybe something to that global warming stuff," said Richard Bird as he and his son walked to the park.

Often it's what accompanies the heat that gets people down.

"The one thing that is a problem is humidity," said Dr. Keith Van Meter, who is an LSU health professor and emergency medicine chief.

He said it's important not to let yourself get in the heat exhaustion or heat stroke zone. Van Meter said the emergency room at the interim LSU Hospital is seeing an increase in heat-related illnesses.

"It doesn't take long before 90 degrees in the sun can start raise the core temperature," he said.

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are serious conditions. Heat stroke can result in death. And in terms of trying to beat it, people in Louisiana rely on a lot of AC.

"I remember as a girl it wasn't that hot. I remember we had the reed fan in the window and it kept the house cool before air conditioning," said Brenda Lomax Brown as she sat under a tree in City Park.

According to Wallet Hub's 2015 Most and Least Energy Expensive States Report, in south Louisiana, although energy is cheap by comparison, households here still end up paying more for electricity than in northern California, which is viewed as energy expensive. The report said the total monthly energy cost in Louisiana is $284, while in California it's $280. Florida was $276 and Arizona was $268.

Some local consumers pondered why.

"It's harder for the air conditioner to work, you know, because of the type of climate we have - sub-tropical, more humidity," said Bird.

Ibn Rashad is visiting New Orleans from Philadelphia and knows what he'lll tell family and friends back home about the weather he has experienced in New Orleans for the first time.

"Stay in the house under air conditioning and drink water when you're outside," said Rashad.

Again, medical professionals warn that too much exposure to the heat and humidity can put your life in danger.

"The best way to handle the heat wave that we're having is to stay inside and if you're air conditioner breaks down don't tough it out, go to a public place or even call city health officials for advice on where you could stay cool," said Van Meter.

Entergy issued the following statement:

"Louisiana customers currently enjoy some of the lowest electric rates in the nation. And while we understand that extreme summer temperatures and humidity can cause an increase in electric consumption, we offer a variety of programs and tools customers can use to manage their energy use and save money. Customers can access conservation tips and calculators at to determine the best fit for their needs. What's more, Entergy offers energy-efficiency programs to its customers throughout Louisiana. Here in the metro area, Orleans Parish customers can benefit from the Energy Smart program and customers living outside of Orleans Parish can take advantage of Entergy Solutions – A Louisiana Program. Both programs offer ways to help customers lower their electric bills and find new ways to save energy – and money – around their homes or businesses."

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