What to Do
o Stop all activity, and sit quietly in a cool place.
o Drink clear juice or a sports beverage.
o Do not return to strenuous activity for a few hours after the cramps subside, because further exertion may lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
o Seek medical attention for heat cramps if they do not subside in 1 hour.
Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. It is the body’s response to an excessive loss of the water and salt contained in sweat. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are elderly people, people with high blood pressure, and people working or exercising in a hot environment.
Recognizing Heat Exhaustion
Warning signs of heat exhaustion include the following:
o Heavy sweating
o Muscle cramps
o Nausea or vomiting
The skin may be cool and moist. The victim’s pulse rate will be fast and weak, and breathing will be fast and shallow. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may progress to heat stroke. Seek medical attention immediately if any of the following occurs:
o Symptoms are severe
o The victim has heart problems or high blood pressure
o Otherwise, help the victim to cool off, and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or last longer than 1 hour.
What to Do
Cooling measures that may be effective include the following:
o Cool, nonalcoholic beverages
o Cool shower, bath, or sponge bath
o An air-conditioned environment
o Lightweight clothing
Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature. The body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Warning signs of heat stroke vary but may include the following:
o An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F, orally)
o Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating);
o Rapid, strong pulse;
o Throbbing headache;
If you see any of these signs, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the victim. Do the following:
o Get the victim to a shady area.
o Cool the victim rapidly, using whatever methods you can. For example, immerse the victim in a tub of cool water; place the person in a cool shower; spray the victim with cool water from a garden hose; sponge the person with cool water; or if the humidity is low, wrap the victim in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously.
o Monitor body temperature, and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101-102°F.
o If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
o Do not give the victim anything to drink.
o Get medical assistance as soon as possible.
o Sometimes a victim’s muscles will begin to twitch uncontrollably as a result of heat stroke. If this happens, keep the victim from injuring himself by moving objects around the victim.