Heat Related Illnesses and How to Prevent
The Edgecliff Village Fire Department stresses the importance of taking safety measures when
outdoors to avoid heat-related medical emergencies.
Before conducting outdoors activities and feeling thirsty, drink plenty of
water and electrolyte-replacement beverages. Avoid beverages or food sources
with caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar because these can actually
result in the loss of body fluid.
Conduct outdoor work or exercise in the early morning or evening when it is
cooler. Individuals unaccustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment
need to start slowly and gradually increase heat exposure over several weeks.
Take frequent breaks in the shade or in an air-conditioned facility.
A wide-brimmed, loose-fitting hat that allows ventilation helps prevent sunburn
and heat-related emergencies. A tight-fitting baseball cap is not the best
choice when conducting strenuous outdoors activities. Sunscreen also helps
protect injury from the sun's rays and reduces the risk of sunburn.
Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that permits the
evaporation of perspiration. Do not leave children, senior citizens or pets
unattended in a vehicle. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are the
most common types of heat related emergencies.
Heat cramps are muscle pains or spasms that typically occur in the abdomen,
arm, and legs in association with strenuous activity. If you have heart
problems or are on a low sodium diet, get medical attention for heat cramps.
If medical attention is not necessary, take these steps:
all activity, and sit quietly in a cool place
clear juice or a sport drink
- Do not
return to strenuous activity for a few hours until after the cramps
subside because further exertion may lead to heat exhaustion or stroke.
medical attention for heat cramps if they do not subside in one hour.
Heat exhaustion is the body's response to an excessive loss of water and salt
contained in sweat. Signs include profuse sweating, paleness, muscle cramps,
weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, a weak-but-rapid pulse and
fainting. The skin may be cool and moist. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it
may progress to heat stroke.
Heat stroke occurs when the body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating
system fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to
106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or
permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given. Heat stroke symptoms
include an extremely high body temperature (above 103°F, orally), red, hot and
dry skin (no sweating), rapid and strong pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness,
nausea, confusion and unconsciousness.