July 20, 2023
Summer Safety Tip
How to read the signs of heat exhaustion.
During extremely hot and humid weather, your body’s ability to cool itself is challenged. When the body heats too rapidly to cool itself properly, or when too much fluid or salt is lost through dehydration or sweating, body temperature rises and you or someone you care about may experience a heat-related illness. It is important to know the symptoms of excessive heat exposure and the appropriate responses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a list of warning signs and symptoms of heat illness, and recommended first aid steps.
Heat cramps may be the first sign of heat-related illness, and may lead to heat exhaustion or stroke.
- Symptoms: Painful muscle cramps and spasms usually in the legs and abdomen and heavy sweating.
- First Aid: Apply firm pressure on cramping muscles or gently massage to relieve spasms. Give sips of water unless the person complains of nausea, then stop giving water.
Seek immediate medical attention if cramps last longer than 1 hour.
- Symptoms: Heavy sweating, weakness or tiredness, cool, pale, clammy skin; fast, weak pulse, muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, headache, fainting,
- First Aid: Move the person to a cooler environment, preferably a well-air-conditioned room. Loosen clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths or have the person sit in a cool bath. Offer sips of water.
Seek immediate medical attention if the person vomits, symptoms worsen or last longer than 1 hour
- Symptoms: Throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, body temperature above 103°F, hot, red, dry or damp skin, rapid and strong pulse, fainting, loss of consciousness.
- First Aid: Call 911 or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Delay can be fatal. Move the victim to a cooler, preferably air-conditioned, environment. Reduce body temperature with cool cloths or a bath. Use a fan if heat index temperatures are below the high 90s. A fan can make you hotter at higher temperatures. Do NOT give fluids.
For more information check out the CDC website or print out the heat illness handout here.