Summer is right around the corner and in some areas it can get really hot. The high temperatures can pose risks to your health and educating yourself on prevention and what to do if an illness occurs can be priceless information.
There are a couple terms we hear when it comes to heat-related illness. Heat Stroke is probably the most widely used term, but there is also Heat Exhaustion and Heat Cramps. It’s important to know the difference in the symptoms as these illnesses range from a little painful to deadly.
A Heat Stroke is the most dangerous of all heat-related illnesses and can cause death. A heat stroke is caused when a person’s body stop’s controlling their temperature through sweating. Such an increase in body temperature, upwards to 105 F, can cause brain damage or death if not treated immediately. Some of the symptoms you need to look for include skin that is hot and red, problems breathing, slow pulse, and possibly going unconsciousness. Vomiting is also another sign. If heat stroke is suspected, the person needs immediate help. Wrap wet sheets around the person and call 911 for emergency help. If available, ice-packs can be wrapped in a cloth and place near the person’s neck. The goal is to keep the person as cool as possible and lying down until help arrives.
A little less deadly is Heat Exhaustion. This is caused by heavy sweating. Heat exhaustion generally occurs during hard exercise or work that is being done in hot, humid places. During an episode, the loss of fluid can cause a person to go into shock. Wearing too heavy clothes can also be a cause of heat exhaustion. Some of the symptoms you need to look for include moist, cool and either pale or red skin, dizziness, and sweating. As with a heat stroke, vomiting is also a possibility. If a person is exhibiting these symptoms, try giving them cool water every 15 minutes. Around four ounces. Never give alcohol or caffeine as these can make the situation more drastic. Cool, wet, sheets, or cloths can be applied to the person to help cool their body. At any time, if the situation worsens in any way, call 911 for help.
The third and least dangerous is Heat Cramps. These are muscle pains that occur due to heavy activity. These can occur anywhere, but generally are in the legs and stomach muscles. A break from activity as well as cooling and hydrating the body should get the cramps under control.
Preventing heat-related illnesses is your safest bet and is easy to do. Wear clothing suited to the weather. Never layer clothing in hot weather. Stay hydrated. Anytime in excessive heat or during strenuous activity, make sure drinks are available. Water and sports drinks are good options. Staying inside during heat waves when possible will lessen your risk. If you must be outside, make sure you take breaks when you feel hot. Get out of the sun and into some shade.
Summer is all about fun, but a heat-related illness can ruin any good time. Protect yourself.