HCA Midwest Health
June 28, 2016

Stay Safe in the Sun

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke occur when your body can’t stay cool. Sweating helps to regulate temperature to the right level. But on hot, humid days, moist air can slow down evaporation of your sweat. This is where you can run into trouble.

What is heat exhaustion?

When your body gets too hot, due to exercise or hot weather, heat exhaustion can result. You may experience heavy sweating, feeling weak and/or confused, dizziness, nausea, headache, fast heartbeat or dark-colored urine (due to dehydration).

If you think you have heat exhaustion

First, get out of the heat. Quickly. Rest inside an air-conditioned building or in a cool, shady place. Drink lots of water or other fluids but NOT alcohol or caffeine. Take a cool shower or apply cool water on your skin. If you don’t feel better in 30 minutes, contact your doctor, because if heat exhaustion isn’t treated, it can lead to heat stroke.

What is heat stroke?

Heat stroke happens when the internal temperature of the body reaches 104 degrees. It’s much more serious than heat exhaustion, can damage organs and the brain, and can even lead to death. Symptoms include hot and dry (but not sweaty) skin, confusion, frequent vomiting, trouble breathing and fainting.

Act fast if you think it’s heat stroke

Call 9-1-1 immediately. Before medical assistance arrives, find air conditioning or cool shade. Remove unnecessary clothing, and fan the air around the person while you wet the skin with water. Apply ice packs to areas with lots of blood vessels close to the skin: armpits, groin, neck and back.

How to prevent heat illness

When it’s hot and humid, stay indoors in air conditioning whenever possible. If you go outside, wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing; wear a sunhat; use sunscreen; drink plenty of water and replenish lost salt by drinking a sports drink; drink less alcohol and caffeine; plan vigorous exercise during the cooler times of day; take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water or other drinks. If you have a chronic medical problem, talk to your doctor about what you should do when spending time in the heat.

Prevention is the key

Heat illness can be serious. Keeping yourself and your loved ones safe should be your top priority. When you’re aware of the dangers of extreme heat and humidity, you’ll be able to get the most out of the season.