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 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
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
Cool, pale, clammy skin
Fast, weak pulse
Possible muscle cramps
Nausea or vomiting
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.
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
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.