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Common Heat Related Illiness

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 provides a list of warning signs and symptoms of heat illness, and recommended first aid steps. Some of these symptoms and steps are listed below.

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps may be the first sign of heat-related illness, and may lead to heat exhaustion or stroke.


Painful muscle cramps and spasms usually in legs and abdomen

Heavy sweating

First Aid:

Apply firm pressure on cramping muscles or gently massage to relieve spasm.

Give sips of water unless the person complains of nausea, then stop giving water

Heat Exhaustion


Heavy sweating


Cool, pale, clammy skin

Fast, weak pulse

Possible muscle cramps


Nausea or vomiting


First Aid:

Move person to a cooler environment

Lay person down and loosen clothing

Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of the body as possible

Fan or move victim to air conditioned room

Offer sips of water

If person vomits more than once, seek immediate medical attention.

Heat Stroke


Altered mental state

One or more of the following symptons: throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, shallow breathing

Body temperature above 103°F

Hot, red, dry or moist skin

Rapid and strong pulse

Faints, loses consciousness

First Aid:

Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Call 911 or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal.

Move the victim to a cooler, preferably air-conditioned, environment.

Reduce body temperature with cool cloths or bath.

Use fan if heat index temperatures are below the high 90s. A fan can make you hotter at higher temperatures.

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