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
- Heavy sweating
- 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
- Heavy sweating
- 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 makes you hotter at higher temperatures.
- Do NOT give fluids.