Medic Talk By the Vermillion-Clay County Ambulance Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition when the body temperature rises rapidly to 104 degrees or higher. The body's heat-regulating mechanism breaks down. It usually occurs after a long exposure to hot temperatures. Working in an extremely hot environment, having a high fever from an illness or exercising too strenuously can also cause this condition. Overdressing, overeating or drinking too much alcohol can contribute to heat stroke as well.
You may suffer from heat exhaustion before actually experiencing heat stroke. Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include any or all of the following symptoms: confusion, fatigue, heavy sweating, weakness, faintness, and dark yellow or orange urine.
When your body can no longer keep your temperature normal, heat exhaustion moves to heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke may include hot dry skin, absence of sweating, muscle cramps, reddened skin, shallow breathing, weak and rapid pulse and body temperatures over 104.
If you think someone has heat stroke, call 911 or your hospital emergency room. While waiting for assistance to arrive, you can do these simple first aid steps. Move the person to a cool area. Remove any excess clothing. Fan the person with a paper fan or an electric fan. Sponge the person off, especially the head, with cool � NOT COLD! � water. Continue giving these first aid steps until help arrives or the person's skin feels cool to the touch. If the person is conscious, let them sip small amounts of water.
You can help prevent heat stroke. Avoid strenuous activity in hot or humid weather. Wear light colored, loose fitting clothing. Wear a broad brimmed hat while working outdoors. Drink extra water in hot weather, especially when you sweat, even if you aren't thirsty. Open windows and use a fan or air conditioner to improve air circulation in your home. Limit your alcohol intake, and limit food intake to small meals if you are going to be doing a great deal of outdoor activity.
Have a safe and fun-filled summer, and be watching for our article next month on first aid for fractures and lacerations.