Heat Emergencies

You don’t need an outdoor thermometer to tell you it’s summer. But do you know what to do when heat illness strikes?

Whether it’s minor dehydration or a life-threatening stroke, the symptoms can sneak-up on you without warning.

A football player I know was involved in a grueling summertime workout. All of a sudden he grew light-headed, nauseous and his muscles began to cramp. He didn’t realize it, but he was suffering from heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion occurs when we perspire and don’t replace the fluid we lose. If the problem gets worse, we may lose so much fluid that we can’t perspire anymore. That’s called heat stroke, and it can be deadly.

Knowing the warning signs can save your life.

weakness
light-headedness
nausea
headache
muscle cramps
fever
confusion
Heat stroke causes all of those symptoms, and since you can’t perspire, your skin becomes hot and dry — not cold and clammy.

Paramedics treat heat stroke all too often during the summer months. If you or someone you know experiences the symptoms, call 911 and get help immediately. Heat stroke is an extreme emergency.

Place the person in a cool, shaded area, and use tepid water — not ice water — to cool the person quickly.

If you must be outdoors in the hot sun, don’t drink caffeinated beverages or alcohol; they may dehydrate you. Wear a hat along with loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Get as much shade as possible, and drink a few glasses of water every hour.

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