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Heat Stress, Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke

Heat Stress, Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke

August will continue with extreme heat – learn the symptoms and treatment for each. 

HEAT STRESS (heat cramps) – When your body temperature rises even a few degrees above normal, you might have muscle cramps, become weak, disoriented and ill.  The six things that make up heat stress are temperature, humidity, movement of air or lack of it, the temperature of your surroundings – like a hot grill, clothing, and physical activity.

Signs of heat stress (heat cramps) –  you are tired, irritable, inattentive, and muscle cramps.  Heat cramps usually occur after heavy sweating and may begin at the end of a workday.

First Aid for heat stress/heat cramps –  drink fluids (water or Gatorade –  not alcohol, caffeine, or carbonated beverages) and move to a cool area.

HEAT EXHAUSTION – this happens when a person cannot replace fluids and salt is lost through sweating.  You may start to experience extreme weakness, fatigue, giddiness, nausea, or a headache.

First Aid for heat exhaustion – rest in the shade or a cool place, drink plenty of water or Gatorade, loosen clothing to allow your body to cool, and use cool wet rags to aid cooling. 

HEAT STROKE – this is a life-threatening medical condition that urgently requires medical attention.  There may be no sweating, which makes the skin hot and dry.  Body temperature is very high (greater than 105 degrees).

Signs of heat stroke – mental confusion, delirium, chills, dizziness, loss of consciousness, convulsions or coma, and hot, dry skin that may be red, mottled or bluish.

First Aid for heat stroke – this is a medical emergency! Call 9-1-1.  Brain damage and death are possible.  Move the victim from the heat and into a cool place until help arrives.

See Also

Learn the different stages of heat emergencies and know how to help!

Cinda Seamon

Fire & Life Safety Educator Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue

By: Cinda Seamon

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