As the heat and humidity rise, so does the risk of heat related illnesses, especially for older people and young children. Illnesses include:


Heat Cramps

Heat cramps are painful spasms of your arm, leg and/or abdominal muscles. These can come about during physical activity. If you are experiencing heat cramps, the CDC recommends you should:

  • Stop physical activity and move to a cool place.
  • Drink water or sports drinks to keep yourself well-hydrated. Wait for cramps to subside before continuing with physical activity.

You should seek medical attention if cramps last longer than one hour, you are on a low sodium diet, or you have heart problems.


Heat Exhaustion

Heat Exhaustion is a common heat related illness that has the potential to be life-threatening. The signs of heat exhaustion often begin very suddenly and often occur after spending time outdoors performing a strenuous activity. Symptoms can include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Fast, weak, pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fainting (passing out

If someone exhibits the symptoms of heat exhaustion, the CDC recommends:

  • Moving the person to a cool place preferably in the air conditioning.
  • Loosening any tight or restrictive clothing.
  • Draping cool or wet cloth/rags over the skin to help cool the person off.
  • Giving the person water to sip on.


Heat Stroke

Heat stroke can come on quickly and is more serious. If you notice any signs of heat stroke in yourself or another person, you should seek medical attention quickly. When heat stroke occurs, the body loses its ability to regulate its temperature, sometimes accompanied by an inability to sweat and cool down. Generally, a person suffering from heat stroke will look and feel ill. 

The CDC lists symptoms of heat stroke as:

  • High body temperature
  • Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
  • Fast, strong, pulse
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Losing consciousness (passing out

If you or another person are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should:

  • Call 911 immediately
  • Move the person to a cooler place
  • Help lower to person’s temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath
  • Do not give the person anything to drink if they are not fully conscious and alert

Luckily, you can still enjoy time outdoors during the hotter months. Avoid heat-related illness by following these tips suggested by the CDC:

  • Wear lightweight, light colored clothing made of breathable material, like cotton. You should also wear a wide brimmed hat to protect your face from the sun. In addition to protective clothing, you should also wear sunscreen. Sunburn prevents your body’s ability to cool itself down. It can also contribute to dehydration. Avoid strenuous outdoor activity on hot days. If you are not used to working in the heat start with a small amount of work and increase gradually. If you are exerting yourself enough to be gasping for breath, you should stop all activity immediately.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink water throughout the day. If you are sweating heavily, sports drinks may also be consumed as an alternative to water to provide extra electrolytes.
  • Some medications can cause increased risk of heat related illnesses. Speak with your health care provider about any possible heat-related side effects of your medications.
  • If you must be outside, take frequent breaks in a cool place. Air-conditioning is the single best way to protect against heat-related illness. If you do not have air-conditioning at home during extreme heat, try to spend time in air-conditioned locations such as a shopping mall, public library, or public health sponsored heat-relief shelter in your area. Remember to never leave children or animals unattended in hot cars.

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