No matter where you are living in the United States Summer 2012 the chances are more than good that if you spend time outdoors you can benefit from a review of the signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke.
Whether hiking, biking, or even gardening outside in these temperatures you could be at risk. Gary and I are the gardeners here at the Inn and we exercise great care in these temperatures. We hope after reading this, you will too. Hyperthermia (excessive body temperature) can be life threatening. Have a great time outdoors but pay attention to your body in these temperatures. It may save your life.
Heat Exhaustion: Can be experienced in a wide range of symptomology and experienced differently by different people. It can range from mild cramping to rapid onset of severe symptoms which can prove deadly. Generally experienced in response to dehydration, inadequate salt intake. Sometimes, high humidity in the air can create a situation where perspiration is not evaporated off causing your body to be unable to cool itself effectively creating excessive body heat.
Symptoms can include:
Rapid, but weak heartbeat
Feeling weak, dizzy or faint
Cool, pale and moist skin
What to do next:
Get the person out of the sun finding a shady environment. Air conditioning would be a good choice.
Have the person lie down. They may be resistant- but try to overcome that.
Loosen or remove some clothing.
If able to consume fluids safely have the person drink cool fluids with no caffeine or alcohol in them.
Try to reduce the persons temperature with cool water and fanning.
Monitor this person very carefully as this condition can proceed to Heat Stroke.
Heat Stroke: This is a true medical emergency and if not effectively treated can result in death.
The most severe form of heat related problems. Often seen in conjunction with heavy work/exercise in hot environments where the person has failed to ingest sufficient fluids. Symptoms can include:
Markedly elevated body temperature
Skin can be moist if condition in response to exertion but also can be dry and hot
Changes in mental status ranging from confusion to personality changes ie. irritability. Can result in coma/seizures
Rapid heart rate
Elevated or decreased BP
Dizzy or feeling faint
Fainting may be the primary sign in older adults
What to do next:
If there is a loss of consciousness immediately call 911.
Remove person from the heated environment preferably into air conditioning.
If this is not possible spray them with cool water. Do not crowd them with a lot of people.
Do all possible to cool the body, wet newspapers spread on the person, sheets, towels whatever is available.
Have the person drink fluids immediately when they are able. Again, as in heat exhaustion-No caffeine or alcohol.
Have fun out there but be careful.