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Ask the Expert

Summer Safety: Avoid Heat Exhaustion & Heat Stroke

By Jun 21, 2011May 24th, 201512 Comments

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It’s no secret that all over the country warm weather is upon us. In some places, like the east coast, the weather has been down right hot for this time of year. I guess its safe to say that summer is here and that means its time for days and days of hot weather.

Its nice to have some warm weather where the days can be spent playing outside and going swimming but with warm and hot, unseasonably hot, weather there is a danger that you need to watch out for.

When the weather gets hot and people are outside being active and having fun, they can be effected by heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Both of these conditions occur when the body over heats. Normally, the body controls its temperature very well and, when it gets too hot, the body will produce sweat, which will evaporate off the skin and cool the body. But when the temperature gets extremely hot, the humidity is high or a person is vigorously active under the hot sun, the body loses its ability to cool itself down and heat exhaustion or heat stroke can occur.

Another major cause of heat exhaustion and heat stroke is dehydration. When a person is dehydrated, the body can not produce sweat fast enough to keep itself cool and it will over heat.

Get ready for summer fun by learning the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Keep your family safe this summer with these simple tips!

What You Need To Know About Heat Exhaustion And Heat Stroke

People that are the most susceptible to these conditions are infants, the elderly, especially those with chronic health conditions like heart and lung disease, athletes, and those that work under the hot sun for multiple hours are at time.

Some of the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness

It is important to know that a person suffering from heat exhaustion can have skin that feels cool and wet to the touch but really they are over-heating. Their breathing will be rapid and shallow and their heart rate will be very fast. It is important to treat heat exhaustion quickly for it can rapidly develop into heat stroke, a very serious condition that requires medical attention.

To treat heat exhaustion, simply cool off the person. This can be done by getting them to drink a cool, non-alcoholic beverage, bringing them into an air conditioned place, have them take a cool shower or swim, remove heavy clothes and/or having them rest.

The symptoms should go away once the person is cooled down, but, if they last more than an hour, medical attention should be sought.

As I stated earlier, heat stroke is a serious medical condition that can lead to death if it is not treated immediately.

Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • High body temperature
  • Absence of sweating with hot red or flushed dry skin
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • Strange behavior such as hallucinations, confusion, agitation, and disorientation
  • Seizure
  • Fainting, and/or unresponsiveness.

symptoms of heat strokeDuring a heat stroke, the body’s temperature can reach levels of 106 degrees and needs to be cooled down. If you suspect heat stroke, call 911 immediately and while you wait for help, cool the person down by placing them in a cool shady place, remove all heavy clothing, spray the person with a light mist of cool water, fan the person to treat and create evaporation, which will help cool the skin. If the person is unresponsive, don’t try to get them to drink since this may cause choking. If it is possible, take the person’s temperature with a thermometer and don’t stop cooling until the person reaches 101-102 degrees.

With proper treatment and returning the body temperature to a normal level, a person can survive heat exhaustion and heat stroke just fine.

summertime fun

Summer is fun. I want you to have a good time outside in the warm/hot weather, but just know the signs and symptoms for heat stroke and heat exhaustion and do your best to prevent them by:

  • Staying hydrated and replacing electrolytes with sports drinks during times of high physical activity
  • Taking breaks for re-hydration when spending long periods in the sun
  • Wearing light weight, flowing clothes
  • Resting when possible

Hot weather is what summer is all about, so let’s enjoy it and stay safe!

About Jen

Jen Mitchell is a registered nurse with over 10 years of experience. She works in Critical Care Medicine with adult patients and wants to help you to understand your body and, in turn, how to take better care of it. Buried with Children Blog | Twitter | Facebook

12 Comments

  • I for all time emailed this webpage post page
    to all my contacts, because if like to read it afterward my contacts will too.

  • Great tips! I’m very sensitive to heat! I easily get suffocated, feel dizzy and sweat whenever I’m out of the sun! So I always bring a ton of waters just to prevent dehydration!

  • Tottums says:

    I am so prone to heat exhaustion it’s not even funny. I can’t even count how many times I’ve blacked out from over heating. Lots of water, and making sure I have a full tummy are MUSTS when I’m going to be out in the heat.

  • Very informative seeing as how it has been over 100 degrees in Texas. Thanks.

  • Thanks for the reminders – this is so imporant for those who have some summer sun. At least that’s one good point about the wet Scottish summers – a smaller chance of heat exhaustion or heat stroke!

  • Excellent post! Another thing that is interesting is that the ratios of age-adjusted heatstroke rates were approximately 3:1 for nonwhite v white persons and about 6:1 for low v high socioeconomic status. Therefore, those at highest risk are not only young and old and we should remember to focus public health preventive measures during heat waves toward the urban poor, the elderly, and persons of other-than-white races.

  • Stefanie says:

    Really Terrific Post!! Have tweeted to our followers and will pass the information on wherever I can. Thanks for posting this!

  • Christine says:

    Thanks for your informative post. Rest and hydration…my kids know the drill well!

  • Chaton says:

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  • Good information. My son is mowing lawns this summer in the hot summer sun, and I want him to read this. Thanks!

  • Liz says:

    I nearly fainted last summer at a friend’s wedding. It wasn’t terribly hot, but I was standing for an awfully long time. I wanted to sit down from the beginning, but couldn’t get a chair. I kept asking my dad for a chair/when we’ll be sitting and he kept saying soon/or in a minute after I talk to someone who can get you a chair. I have learned my lesson from standing for too long during the summer. After about 30 minutes of standing I began to see stars. I then thought, I don’t care I’m wearing a dress, I’m going to sit on the grass. Apparently, I looked really white after sitting so my dad took me inside to the holy AC.

    If your child repeatedly asks when/where they can sit during the summer, chances are they aren’t aware of how they feel, only that they don’t feel well and need to sit down.

  • Brandy says:

    Great info! Stay cool everyone!