Heat exhaustion can result from spending too much time in the heat and occurs when perspiration leads to excessive loss of fluids and electrolytes. Even when not in direct sun, a person can lose too much fluid by staying outdoors too long on a hot day or spending too much time in an overly hot house or car.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- Severe headache
- Cool, clammy skin
- Heavy perspiration
- Shallow breathing
- Muscle tremors, cramping
If symptoms occur:
- Lay the person on their back in the coolest nearby place
- Loosen any tight clothing
- Lower head slightly
- Raise the feet
- Get medical attention immediately
Heat stroke is more serious than heat exhaustion and is caused by overexposure to direct sunlight or excessive heat. Even sitting or lying too long in the sun can cause heat stroke, which is a medical emergency that can result in death. If you suspect heat stroke, call 911 or a local emergency number immediately.
- Red, dry face
- Skin hot to the touch
- Body temperature of 105 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius)
- Increased heart rate, even up to 160 to 180 beats per minute
- Loss of consciousness in extreme cases
In the summer, the combination of high heat, high humidity and smog can be very dangerous. Be extra careful if you:
- Drink alcohol beverages
- Take certain prescription medications
- Are elderly
- Have heart or lung condition
Some medications make it harder for your body to control its temperature or make it more likely for you to get a sunburn. If you are on two or more medications, you may be at even greater risk for heat-related illness.
Here are some things you can do to keep from getting sick from the heat:
- Drink lots of water and juice, even if you don't feel thirsty.
- Try to stay out of the sun, especially in the middle of the day. If you have to be outside, stay in the shade as much as possible.
- If you have a hat, wear it.
- Wear loose fitting, lightweight clothing.
- Try to take it easy; rest as much as possible.
- If you have to walk a long way, try to do it in the early morning or evening.
- Try to spend time in cool places with air conditioning.
- Take a cool shower from time to time.
- Try to spend time near the lake or waterfront where it is cooler.
Seek medical attention if you have the following signs of heat illness:
- Rapid breathing
- Weakness or fainting
- More tiredness than usual
You can help someone with heat illness by doing these things:
If you become ill, faint, have trouble breathing or feel confused, call 911 (in most places) or seek transport to your doctor or nearest hospital immediately.
- Call for help
- Take extra clothing off the person
- Cool the person with cool water by sponging or bathing
- Move the person to a cooler place
- Give the person sips of cool water, not ice cold water