Avoiding the Dangers of Heat Stroke
Now that it is getting hotter outside and the sun is shining, a lot of us are going to be spending more time outside. Doing things outdoors is part of what makes summer so fun and so memorable. However, while we fully encourage all of you to go out with friends and family and have a great time, there are some important things to keep in mind. Above all else, it is important to be safe while you are out playing in the sun.
Being out in the sun is always fun and warming, but at the same time we need to be careful when we are out in it. If we do not properly prepare or spend too much time out in the sun, then we can run into some serious health consequences. Sunburn is one thing that may inevitably happen, but heat stoke is far more serious. In fact, heat stroke is the most serious heat-related condition, and it’s important to know the common causes and symptoms of this sickness so you can take necessary steps to prevent it.
Heat stroke occurs when the body is both dehydrated and is overheating. This commonly happens when people are exercising out in the sun when it is hot. Not only does the body begin to heat up due to the effort being exerted, but it also has to deal with the increase in temperature outside. When this occurs, the body will lose water and salt far more readily, and will possibly lose its ability to regulate temperature.
Seeking Medical Attention if Experiencing Heat Stroke
Heat stroke can quickly turn deadly, since high body temperatures (over 104 degrees F) can damage brain, heart, muscle, and kidney tissues. If you witness heatstroke symptoms in someone, seek immediate medical attention by calling 911 or local emergency numbers. Here are some important symptoms of heat stroke, according to WebMD, include:
- Body temperature of 104 degrees F or higher
- Confusion, irritability, delirium, slurred speech, and even slipping into a coma
- Nausea and vomiting
- Skin turning red. Skin may dry out if heatstroke is caused by hot weather, or it may be moist if it is caused by exercise
- Rapid and shallow breathing
- Rapid heartbeat, increased pulse
While waiting for emergency personnel to arrive, do everything you can to lower the temperature of the person experiencing heat stroke. This includes:
- Removing warm clothing
- Moving the person indoors or into the shade
- Cooling the person off with water, ice, moist towels/cloths, a fan and cool mist, etc.
Drinking water constantly is going to be the first big thing you can do. Even if you are not feeling thirsty, you should be drinking water in order to cool the body and to keep it hydrated. Regular breaks are also recommended, so that the body does not get to the point where it is over exerting itself.
On hot days, or during the hottest part of the day, avoid strenuous exercise. If strenuous exercise cannot be avoided, then take breaks often and keep drinking water and liquids as much as possible. It’s also important to protect yourself against sunburn with sunscreen, hats, etc.
On hot days when you’re spending a lot of time outside, be sure to wear appropriate clothing. This includes loose fitting, lightweight clothes that allow your skin to breath and cool itself.
If you should feel sick or hot, tired and drained, then it is likely that you are in the early stages of a heat stroke. At this point, it is important to sip water that is tepid, rather than guzzling it. The point is to slowly get back into good shape, rather than shocking your body any more.
Doing this should prevent heat stroke when it starts occurring. Prevention is always better than treatment, and heatstroke is both predictable and preventable.
If you know you are going to be at risk for heatstroke, take extra precautions and look out for the people around you, as well. The very young and the very old aren’t as capable of regulating their body temperature, and so they may be at higher risk for heatstroke on hot days. Absolutely never leave a child alone in a hot car, and help those around you to stay hydrated and cool if you think there might be even the slightest risk of heat stroke.