How to Respond to Heat-Related Illnesses

What happens when your body is exposed to more heat than it can handle? Heat-related illnesses can quickly escalate, leading to delirium, organ damage and even fatalities. The National Safety Council reported that 87 Americans died from exposure to excessive heat in 2017.

Who’s at Risk?

Everyone is at risk for heat-related illnesses such as heatstroke, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion, especially during the hot summer months. The most susceptible populations are:

  • Infants
  • Older adults
  • Pets
  • Individuals who work outside
  • People with heart/circulatory problems
  • Athletes
  • Alcoholics and drug abusers

Limiting time outdoors on hot days is the best way to avoid a heat-related illness. On hot days, avoid spending time outside from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and drink more liquid than you think you need, avoiding alcoholic beverages. Wear sunscreen, a hat, and loose clothing that is lightweight.

Heat Stroke

Symptoms of heat stroke include rapid breathing, dizziness, skin that is very hot to the touch, headache, confusion/irrational behavior, and unresponsiveness or convulsions. It is also likely that the affected individual will have stopped sweating. If someone you know appears to be suffering from heat stroke, seek medical attention and call 911 immediately.

Move the individual to a cool place and remove outer layer of clothing. A cold shower or applying cold wet towels can help cool the body. Don’t try to force the person to drink liquids. Monitor breathing and be prepared to perform CPR if necessary.

Other Heat-Related Illnesses

Heat exhaustion symptoms are similar to those of the flu. Symptoms can include fatigue, nausea, severe thirst, fatigue, vomiting, profuse sweating, dizziness, rapid pulse, clammy or pale skin, and slightly elevated body temperature. It’s important to treat heat exhaustion quickly, as it can evolve into heatstroke. To treat heat exhaustion, move the affected person to a shaded or air-conditioned area. Provide water or other cool non-alcoholic drinks. Apply wet towels or have the individual take a cool shower.

Heat cramps are muscle spasms caused by reduced salt levels in the body. The spasms usually affect the legs or abdominal muscles, usually occurring after physical activity. If you have pain or spasms in your abdomen, legs, or arms, take a break from activity. Sit or lie down in a cooler area, drink a cool non-alcoholic beverage, and stretch the affected muscles. If you have heart problems or the heat cramps don’t get better in an hour, seek medical attention.

If you or a loved one has been injured, contact the Schuerman Law office today. Schuerman Law has been working with personal injury claims for over 40 years. John Schuerman will compassionately advocate for injured individuals as well as their families while fighting for full compensation of their claims. Schuerman Law offers evening and weekend appointments in addition to home and hospital visits. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 1-800-274-0045.

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