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How to avoid heat stroke

Closeup of grass with hot sun beating down in background

With temperatures often climbing into the triple-digits during July and August, it’s especially important to be heat aware and avoid heat stroke (sunstroke).

But how do you know whether you’re just thirsty, have a case of heat exhaustion or are suffering from heat stroke? The CDC let’s us know what to expect and how to combat the symptoms.

sweat back of person wearing blue shirt

Symptoms of Heat Cramps

If you’re sweating profusely and having episodes of muscle cramps, you need to slow it down, find somewhere cool to relax and drink some water. Don’t start exercising or do any more physical activity until the cramps goes away. If they don’t go away or you have suffer from chronic heart problems, seek medical attention.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a less-severe form of heat stroke. If you’re suffering from heat exhaustion, you’ll notice signs like sweating, clammy skin, nausea (and vomiting), muscle cramps, exhaustion (fatigue), headache or dizziness. If you experience any of these symptoms, you need to get to a cool place and hydrate with water or a sports drink. If you’re able, take a cool bath and lower your body temperature. Don’t chug water, instead slowly sip it to rehydrate. If your symptoms get worse or you begin throwing up, seek immediate medical attention.

firefighter wiping sweat and soot away from his eye after fighting a fire

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a severe heat sickness that can cause permanent damage. Watch for these symptoms:

With both heat exhaustion and heat stroke, you are at a greater risk for losing consciousness or passing out.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency and if you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 right away. If a person loses consciousness due to heat stroke, move them to a cool place and place cool, damp cloths on them to help lower their body temperature. DO NOT give the person anything to drink and DO NOT give the person an ice bath. You can, however, place ice packs on a person’s head, neck, armpits and groin area to help lower their body temperature.

Heat Stroke Prevention

Heat stroke can be deadly, so preventing it by wearing appropriate clothing for the environment and staying hydrated is crucial. Here are some other ways you can prevent heat-related illnesses:

Protecting Your Children

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the United States hit a record number of heat stroke-related deaths of children in 2018, when 53 kids died from being left in hot vehicles. On average, 39 kids per year between the ages of 0-9 die in hot car deaths. As of June 31, there had already been six deaths nationwide in 2020. The majority of these deaths happen because a parent or guardian forgets the child in the car. 100 percent of those deaths were preventable.

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