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Heat Stroke: 5 Things You Need to Know to Stay Safe

Heat Stroke: 5 Things You Need to Know to Stay Safe

Heat Stroke: 5 Things You Need to Know to Stay Safe

After a long, cold Wyoming winter, nothing feels quite like the summer sun. But as the temps go up, so does the risk of experiencing summer-related health issues, like heat stroke. Heat stroke is more than just feeling overheated, heat stroke is a serious heat-related illness that can be deadly. So this summer, be ready for the heat by taking time to learn about the signs of heat stroke and what to do if it happens.

1. Know What Heat Stroke Is (and Isn’t)

Your body is usually able to regulate its temperature. When heat stroke happens, natural cooling processes don’t work like they should. When your body can’t produce sweat, you lose the ability to cool down.

Core body temperature can rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. These high temperatures can cause breakdown of the brain and central nervous system, harm heart muscle cells and blood vessels, lead to organ damage, and ultimately, permanent injury or death.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Knowing what to look for, and getting the treatment needed, could save a life.

2. Know the Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke

Heat stroke can happen suddenly, but typically there are warning signs. Early symptoms can include headache, nausea, dizziness, heat cramps, and fatigue. These less severe symptoms are called heat exhaustion. It’s important to cool the body before heat exhaustion turns into heat stroke.

Once heat stroke starts, the symptoms get more serious. If left untreated, simply drinking water or sitting in the shade won’t be enough. It’s time to call 911.

If you suspect heat stroke, learn what to look for.Early symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Heavy sweat or a lack of sweat
  • Nausea

If these early symptoms are noted, move out of the sun and cool down for a bit. If the symptoms worsen to life-threatening symptoms, call 911 immediately. Life-threatening signs of heatstroke are:

  • Confusion
  • Faintness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of consciousness or coma
  • Seizure
  • Trouble walking or staggering

3. Know What to Do If Heat Stroke Happens

The first step in treating heat stroke is to call 911. While you’re waiting for emergency care, staying with the person and working to bring their body temperature down is important.

Move the person to an air-conditioned building or shaded, cool area. Remove outer clothing (or soak clothing with cool water). Place cold wet cloths or ice on the head, neck, armpits, and groin. Spray the patient with cool water and use a fan to circulate cool air

If medical help is sought quickly, heat stroke is typically treated successfully. So don’t wait to call for care.

4. Know The Risks

Heat stroke can impact any of us if proper precautions aren’t taken. However, there are factors that put some people in greater danger.

The elderly, very young children, and people with chronic illnesses are most at risk for non-exertional heat stroke due to their diminished ability to regulate body temperature. Exertional heat stroke typically strikes young, otherwise healthy people participating in strenuous physical activity. This group tends to be less concerned about the effects of heat on their health, so early symptoms can get ignored.

Your surroundings and even what you’re wearing can play a role. Dark clothes with little air flow and confined, unventilated spaces can raise your risk for heat stroke. Other factors that can contribute to heat stroke include dehydration, being overweight, sleep deprivation, being unaccustomed to the heat, and certain medications.

If you’ve had heat stroke in the past, your chances of experiencing it again go up. So make sure to take extra precautions in hot weather.

5. Know How to Prevent Heat Stroke

Most cases of heat stroke can be prevented. Following a few common-sense guidelines can keep you feeling cool in the summertime.

  • The best way to avoid heat stroke is to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water or sports drinks with electrolytes. If you’re thirsty, it means you waited too long to take a drink.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the heat, they can contribute to dehydration.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing, with a loose-weave material that lets air breeze through to your skin.
  • Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day. If that isn't possible, take short breaks to cool down.
  • If the temperature is exceptionally hot, your best bet is to stay indoors and enjoy the comfort and safety of the air conditioning.

Looking for more ways to stay safe in the summer heat? Find a provider today.