KCUR News
9:52 am
Tue June 23, 2009

Signs Of Heat Illness

Kansas City, MO – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises the two worst types of heat-related illness are heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Warning signs of heat exhaustion can include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Dizziness or headache
  • A "sick stomach" feeling or vomiting
  • Faintness

If these symptoms are severe or the person has heart problems or high blood pressure, get medical help right away. Otherwise, help the person cool off by having him do these things:

  • Drink cool, non-alcoholic beverages such as water.
  • Rest.
  • Take a cool sponge bath (or if the person can stand safely or be moved to a tub, help him take a cool shower or bath).
  • Change to lightweight clothing.
  • Most importantly, move to an air-conditioned place such a shopping mall, or local heat-relief shelter if your city or town has these (these often include the public libraries, senior centers, or recreational buildings).

Get medical help if symptoms get worse or symptoms last more than 1 hour.

If untreated, heat exhaustion can develop into heat stroke, a very serious condition. Up to 40% of people with heat stroke may die due to brain damage, even when they get appropriate medical help.

Warning signs of heat stroke can include:

  • A body temperature of 103 or higher
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (although some victims may sweat).
  • Throbbing headache or dizziness.
  • "Sick stomach" feeling.
  • Confusion or unconsciousness ("passing out").

If you think someone may have heat stroke, call 911 immediately. Heat stroke is a medical emergency.

These are actions you can take while you wait for help to arrive:

  • Move the person to a shady area.
  • Use water to cool the person (for example, put the person in a tub of cool water, spray him with water from a garden hose, or sponge him off with cool water).
  • Keep up your cooling efforts until the person's body temperature stays at 101-102 .
  • If the person can safely drink, give him non-alcoholic fluids.