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Heat Related Illnesses

We are at that time of year where it is beginning to get warm and will only get warmer as summer goes on. I have put together some info about Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke.

Heat Exhaustion:

Heat exhaustion happens when your body gets too hot. It can be caused by physical exercise or hot weather.

Symptoms may include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Feeling weak and/or confused
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fast heartbeat

If you think you have heat exhaustion, get out of the heat quickly. Rest in a building that has air-conditioning. If you can’t get inside, find a cool, shady place. Drink plenty of water or other fluids. Do NOT drink alcohol or caffeinated drinks (such as soda). These can make heat exhaustion worse. Take a cool shower or bath, or apply cool water to your skin. Take off any tight or unnecessary clothing.

If you do not feel better within 30 minutes, you should contact your doctor. If heat exhaustion is not treated, it can progress to heatstroke.

Heat Stroke:

Heatstroke is when the internal temperature of the body reaches 104°F. It can happen when your body gets too hot during strenuous exercise or when exposed to very hot temperatures, or it can happen after heat exhaustion isn’t properly treated. Heatstroke is much more serious than heat exhaustion. Heatstroke can cause damage to your organs and brain. In extreme cases, it can kill you.

Symptoms include:

  • High fever (104°F or higher)
  • Severe headache
  • Dizziness and feeling light-headed
  • A flushed or red appearance to the skin
  • Lack of sweating Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Nausea Vomiting
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fast breathing
  • Feeling confused, anxious or disoriented
  • Seizures

If you think someone might have heatstroke, call emergency medical personnel immediately. While you are waiting for medical assistance, take the person into an air-conditioned building or a cool, shady place. Remove the person’s unnecessary clothing to help cool him or her down. Try to fan air over the person while wetting the skin with water. You can also apply ice packs to the person’s armpits, groin, neck and back. These areas contain a lot of blood vessels close the surface of the skin. Cooling them with ice packs can help the person cool down.

Prevention:

  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat or using an umbrella.
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more.
  • Drink plenty of water before starting an outdoor activity.
  •  Drink extra water all day. Keep in mind that heat-related illnesses are not only caused by high temperatures and a loss of fluids, but also a lack of salt in the body. Some sports drinks can help replenish the salt in your body lost through sweating.
  • Drink fewer beverages that contain caffeine (such as tea, coffee and soda) or alcohol.
  • Schedule vigorous outdoor activities for cooler times of the day — before 10:00 a.m. and after 6:00 p.m.
  • During an outdoor activity, take frequent breaks.
  • Drink water or other fluids every 15 to 20 minutes, even if you don’t feel thirsty. If you have clear, pale urine, you are probably drinking enough fluids. Dark-colored urine is an indication that you’re dehydrated.
  • If you have a chronic medical problem, ask your doctor about how to deal with the heat, about drinking extra fluids and about your medicines.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 at 9:54 pm and is filed under Safety Alerts.

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