With a scorching summer heatwave lingering over the U.S., health officials are more alarmed than ever about the threat of heat stroke and heat-related illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), extreme heat claims more lives yearly than hurricanes, lightning, tornados, earthquakes, and floods combined.
Take a minute to review #TRN’s quick tips and warning signs about heat stroke; it might save a life.
Heat-Related Illnesses and Symptoms
Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are conditions with varying levels of severity but with some overlapping symptoms. And while spending time in the heat can be uncomfortable for anyone, the general rule of thumb is that if any of the symptoms below persist beyond an hour, you should seek immediate medical attention. Heat cramps, possibly accompanied by heavy sweating, are painful muscle cramps and spasms that may signal heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If you or someone you know is experiencing heat cramps, apply pressure or gently massage to relieve the cramps while consuming small sips of water. If, however, nausea is present, stop the water intake.
Heat exhaustion may include sweating and muscle cramps but with the possible addition of dizziness, nausea or vomiting, cool and clammy skin, headache, fainting, and/or a weak pulse. Move into a cool, climate-controlled environment as soon as possible; apply cool, wet cloths or run a cool bath for soaking. If vomiting occurs or symptoms don’t subside within an hour, seek immediate medical attention.
Heat stroke may include some of the symptoms related to heat exhaustion, along with some that are more severe, including a throbbing headache, a fever of over 103 degrees, hot red skin, a racing pulse, or loss of consciousness. Along with moving the victim to a cooler environment and using cooling cloths or a cool bath, medical attention should be sought without delay. If the victim shows signs of heat stroke versus exhaustion, do not give them water or other fluids to drink.
Staying Cool in the Heat
Knowing the symptoms and remedies for heat-related conditions is important, but it’s also critical to prevent the onset of these illnesses however we can. Here are some quick tips for keeping cool and staying safe:
Never leave a person or animal locked in a vehicle that isn’t climate-controlled (a fatality can occur in 10 minutes or less).
Stay consistently hydrated with water, and consider electrolyte-rich or sports drinks if you’re going to be sweating a lot (water might not be enough; you’ll need to replace the salt and minerals you’re sweating out).
Excessive heat is brutal for everyone, but vulnerable populations like the elderly, pregnant people, and outdoor workers may need extra precautions during peak heat.
Pay attention to local heat advisories and use care when timing yard work, exercise, or other outdoor events.
Wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing whenever possible outdoors; also consider sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, and long sleeves for sun protection.
Apply (and regularly re-apply) sunscreen before heading outdoors.