By Michael Abeyta

DENVER (CBS4) – On Sunday at the A Taste of Puerto Rico Festival in Denver’s Civic Center Park the food was hot and the music was hotter, but while salsa and tostones likely won’t hurt you the high temperatures will. That’s why attendees were trying to stay cool.

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“As long as they drink water,” said event emcee Victor Morris. “Water is one of life’s liquids that we need to have.”

He had the right idea, because on days hot days, like the day they had Sunday, the body keeps cool by sweating. When that sweat evaporates it cools the body. If you can’t sweat, your body can’t effectively get rid of the heat. If that happens you might end up with heat illness.

“When those mechanisms fail, the wheels come off the bus,” said Dr. Ben Usatch, the Medical Director UCHealth’s Highlands Ranch Emergency Department

Heat illness is common on weekends when temperatures are high because people still want to go outside to enjoy the weather. That’s why Dr. Usatch says it’s important to know your body and recognize if you are getting sick.

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“It really comes in three recognized flavors at this point — as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”

If you start to feel cramps, confusion or you pass out, you need to start cooling down and call a paramedic.

“You can be sweating and have heat stroke and be in grave danger — actually danger of dying if immediate action is not started,” said Dr. Usatch.

He says a better idea is to avoid heat illness altogether. Avoid things that could make it worse like strenuous exercise, stimulants or alcohol. Keep a close eye on older adults and young kids because they can’t sweat as effectively and remember to drink lots of water and consider electrolyte drinks.

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“Because if you don’t have that water on board yourself, you’re not going to be able to dissipate it out into the air and that’s how you avoid it,” said Dr. Usatch.

Also, he says don’t be afraid to take a break. Then once you feel rested and rehydrated you can get back to having fun.

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“There is no harm no foul for stepping out of the heat,” Dr. Usatch said.

That’s what Victor Morris did as he led the crowd in a round of singing and dancing.

“You saw me with the conga (drinking from a water bottle). I could drink this and drink about 3 more,” he said.

Michael Abeyta