Heat Related Illnesses/Emergencies

Due to the excessive heat warnings across the midwest and soon to be on the east coast, I thought this handy guide on Heat related Illnesses/Emergencies will be beneficial to everyone here on CK.
Credibility Level: Certified Lifeguard in Lifeguarding, CPR, First Aid & AED by the American Red Cross.


Exposure to extreme heat can make you sick. A person can develop a heat related illness even if the temperatures are not extreme. Factors that can trigger these illnesses are wind, humidity, physical activity, working or living conditions, age and state of health. The signs and symptoms can happen relatively quick and if left untreated, the victim's condition can get worse fast, which can lead to death.

Types of Heat Related Illnesses:

Heat-related illnesses are caused by overexposure to heat or to the sun. If the condition arises during the early stages, they can usually be treated by lifeguards, parents, etc and the condition should be reversed. If left untreated however, it can lead to a heat stroke or life and death situation.

Stage/Type 1: Heat Cramps
These are painful muscle spasms that usually occur in the legs and the abdomen. These are the least severe and first stage to heat related emergencies.

Stage/Type 2: Heat Exhaustion
This is where you're cooling system in you're body get's over worked and can't regulate you're body temperature anymore.

Signs and Symptoms include:
-Cool, moist, pale, ashen or flushed skin.
-Headache, nausea or dizziness.
-Weakness and exhaustion.
-Heavy sweating.

Stage/Type 3: Heat Stroke (Life Threatening)
This is where you're body cannot handle the heat anymore and you're body shuts down. This is the most serious type of heat related emergencies and can be fatal.

Signs and Symptoms include:
-Red, hot, dry skin.
-Changes in levels of consciousness.

How to Treat Heat-Related Emergencies:

If you know of someone or yourself that is suffering from a heat related emergency, do the following steps:
If the person is conscious:
-Move the victim to a cool place.
-Loosen tight clothing.
-Remove wet clothing due to perspiration.
-Apply wet towels to the skin.
-Fan the victim.
-If the victim is conscious, give the victim SMALL amounts of water.

If the person is unconscious, refuses water, or vomits:
-Send someone to call EMS (911).
-Place the victim on their side.
-Continue to attempt to cool the victim using ice packs on their wrists, ankles, groin, neck and armpits.
-Check for breathing and pulse till EMS arrives.


Now that you know how to care and know what these heat related illnesses are, here's how to prevent them.
If swimming outside in a pool or going on a run, etc. Always have a friend with you. If you go down, then someone else will be there to care for you.
Don't stay out in the sun/heat for an excessive period of time, unless you're by water.
Stay hydrated. Drink a gallon of water a day.
Avoid Alcohol.
Get at least 8 hours of sleep.
If you feel headache like, have a deep yellow color to you're urine, you're dehydrated and you are prone to heat related emergencies.
Gatorade & Powerade are you're friends! They restore you're electrolytes you lose from sweating!
Eat some salty foods. (NOT IN EXCESSIVE). Why? It keeps the water from going through you're system faster.
Always carry a water bottle on you at all times when you're outdoors.
If you're not thirsty, force yourself to drink something anyways.
Remember not to go overboard with the water and over hydrate yourself.
If it's too hot to go outside, remember to just stay inside with the Air Conditioning. No A/C? Visit a friend or go to the movies or coffee place.
NEVER leave you're pet in the car on a hot day. (Just thought I'd throw that out there).


Source of Information: Red Cross