The heat is on in many parts of the world. And while we hope you are outside enjoying all of the fun activities the outdoors has to offer, we want you to stay healthy and keep cool. Heat exhaustion (and ultimately heat stroke) can happen quickly and you want to be aware of what to watch for and how to prevent it.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
We’ve all had muscle cramps before – right? We massage the muscle a little, maybe stretch it out a bit, and then we are usually back up and running. But, did you know that might be the first sign that you aren’t tolerating the heat well and it is time to move inside and cool off?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the following symptoms to watch for with heat exhaustion. If you or someone you are with begins to experience any of these symptoms, please take action immediately.
- Heavy sweating
- Cold, pale, and clammy skin
- Fast, weak pulse
- Nausea or vomiting
The National Institute of Health adds the following symptoms of heat exhaustion to watch for:
- Dark urine
We wouldn’t be surprised if many of you are reviewing those symptoms and saying to yourself, “Wow! I’ve experienced at least 3, maybe 4, of those before when I have been outside in the heat. I never thought I was in danger.” That is how quickly it can sneak up on you. Please always be aware of how your body feels and what actions you should be taking to protect yourself.
What To Do For Heat Exhaustion
OK…so you and your buddies are out having a great time and all of a sudden someone starts showing the above symptoms of heat exhaustion. What do you do? First, stay calm. The CDC has some great tips on what to do and please remember to do this quickly:
- Move to a cooler location – this seems like a “no-brainer” but sometimes, depending on where you are when you notice the symptoms (ie: the middle of a lake), this can be somewhat difficult. So, it is best to have a plan before you head out into the heat as to the nearest location with cooler temperatures.
- Lie down and loosen your clothing
- Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible
- Sip water – Notice this tip says to “sip” the water. The instinct may be to drink the water quickly, but this is not advised. Please sip it slowly.
- If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention immediately.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is different from heat exhaustion. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and needs to be treated as such. If you suspect someone has heat stroke call 911 immediately. The National Institute of Health tells us,
“Heat stroke occurs when the body is no longer able to regulate the temperature, and it keeps rising. Heatstroke can cause shock, brain damage, organ failure, and even death.”
The CDC lists several symptoms to watch for in heat stroke:
- High body temperature (above 103°F)
- Hot, red, dry or moist skin
- Rapid pulse
- Possible unconsciousness
The NIH adds the following symptoms of heat stroke to the above list:
- Irrational behavior
- Extreme confusion
- Rapid, shallow breathing
Please notice the differences between heat stroke and heat exhaustion. If someone you are with begins to experience the above symptoms, you will need to call 911 immediately.
What To Do For Heat Stroke
The CDC reminds us how to care for someone who is experiencing the symptoms of heat stroke (a medical emergency). Again, stay calm.
- Call 911 immediately
- Move the person to a cooler environment
- Reduce the person’s body temperature with cool cloths or even a bath
- Do NOT give fluids – notice this differs from treatment for heat exhaustion.
So, how do you prevent heat related illnesses and still have fun? Be aware of how your body feels and of your surroundings. For example, please remember to drink a lot of water. Don’t forget…once you realize you are thirsty, you are already becoming dehydrated. Wear light and loose clothing. Also, remember that age and health are factors. Children and older adults can’t regulate their body temperature as easily as others. Also, if you have been ill or are taking certain medications you could have trouble as well. And, we don’t want to spoil the party…but, alcohol before and during heat exposure can make it harder for your body to regulate your temperature.
Be aware! Notice how you feel. Are you urinating enough and is it light in color (or has it darkened)? Where will you go if you need to move into a cool area quickly? Are you thirsty? Are there people in your party that may not be able to regulate temperature as easily…children or older adults? These are all questions you should be asking yourself before and during your fun in the sun.
We hope you have a great time and stay healthy. Hopefully, these tips will never be needed, but now you know what to look for and what to do in case of heat related illness. And, don’t forget, if you or your loved one find yourselves with a heat related illness away from home, we are here to get you back home safely. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (888) 632-5560. Stay cool!
photo credit: sun flowers via photopin (license)