During the summer, outdoor activities are abundant. Whether it be recreational or work-related, being outside during the daytime this time of the year can subject anyone to dangerous temperatures. High outdoor temperatures can lead to a number of heat-related illnesses, including Heat Stroke.
Heat Stroke is the most serious form of heat injury and is considered a medical emergency. If you suspect that someone has heat stroke — also known as sunstroke — call 911 immediately and give first aid until paramedics arrive. Heat stroke can kill or cause damage to the brain and other internal organs. It often occurs as a progression from milder heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat syncope (fainting), and heat exhaustion, but it can strike even if you have no previous signs of heat injury. Heat stroke results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures — usually in combination with dehydration — which leads to failure of the body’s temperature control system. The medical definition of heat stroke is a core body temperature greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, with complications involving the central nervous system that occur after exposure to high temperatures. Other common symptoms include nausea, seizures, confusion, disorientation, and sometimes loss of consciousness or coma.
When the heat index is high, it’s best to stay in an air-conditioned environment. If you must go outdoors, you can prevent heat stroke by taking these steps:
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more.
- Drink extra fluids. To prevent dehydration, it’s generally recommended to drink at least eight glasses of water, fruit juice, or vegetable juice per day. Because heat-related illness also can result from salt depletion, it may be advisable to substitute an electrolyte-rich sports drink for water during periods of extreme heat and humidity.
- Take additional precautions when exercising or working outdoors. The general recommendation is to drink 24 ounces of fluid two hours before exercise and consider adding another 8 ounces of water or sports drink right before exercise. During exercise, you should consume another 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
Pay attention to yourself and others around you looking for signs and symptoms of Heat Stroke. If you believe someone or yourself may be suffering from Heat Stroke, seek medical attention right away. Enjoy the outdoors with friends, family, and even at work, but take precautions to protect yourself from the heat!
Heat Stroke: Symptoms and Treatment. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/heat-stroke-symptoms-and-treatment#1