December 17, 2018

Heatstroke

August 2016

August_photo

August tends to be the hottest month of the year, and this August is already predicted to be no exception. According to the CDC, on average, 675 people per year die from complications related to extreme heat in the United States. That is more than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, lightning, or any other weather event combined. Click below to learn more about the signs, symptoms, and prevention measures for heatstroke.

What Causes Heatstroke?

Heatstroke occurs when the body gets overheated and can no longer keep itself cool.  Heatstroke can occur when the core body temperature is equal to or higher than 104°F (40°C).  In heat exhaustion, a step prior to heatstroke, the body still has mechanisms in place to compensate for the rise in temperatures.  Therefore, heatstroke is often a result of untreated heat exhaustion.  Untreated heatstroke can damage your brain, kidneys, heart, and muscles.  Prolonging the delay in treatment increases the chance of damage to these organs and could result in death.

Symptoms:

  • Red, hot, and dry skin
  • Headache
  • Lack of sweating
  • Feelings of being dizzy, lightheaded, and unsteady
  • Nausea and vomiting
  •  Rapid heartbeat
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Seizures

Treatment:

If you suspect that someone is having a heatstroke, move them to an air conditioned area.  If an air conditioned area is not available, move them into the shade.  Remove any excess clothing to help cool the skin, and sponge them with cool water or place a fan on them.  Ice packs under arms and in the groin area is another excellent way to cool the body.

Prevention:

Heatstroke is preventable!  In hot weather, take a few steps to make sure you are safe from heatstroke:

1.      Drink plenty of fluids. Drink fluids before you are thirsty.  Staying hydrated
         will help your body with sweat and maintain a normal body temperature.

2.      Wear light, loose clothing.

3.      Take breaks.  If you have to work outside, be sure totake plenty of breaks in
          the shade.

4.      Protect against sunburn. Sunburn affects the body’s ability to cool itself
         down.   Wear a sunblock with at least SPF 15 protection.

5.      Be aware of medication side effects. Some medications can have heat
         related problems.  If this is the case, take extra caution.

6.      Stay inside if possible. Avoid outdoor activities during the hottest part of
         the day.

7.      Never leave anyone in a parked car!