When summer temperatures arrive so does the risk for heatstroke – a condition marked by a dangerous rise in body temperature. Left untreated, heatstroke can severely damage the brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. It could even lead to death.
But there are ways to prevent it from happening in the first place. This summer, keep these tips in mind:
- Drink plenty of fluids. Sports drinks work well, but there’s really nothing better for hydrating than plain old water. Be sure to drink around eight glasses a day, especially if you’re sweating.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Constricting clothing exaggerates the body’s natural insulation, but looser garments allow air to flow and keep the body cooler.
- Use sunscreen with an SPF at least between 20 and 30. This should offer you protection from sunburns, which affect your body’s ability to cool itself.
- Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest parts of the day. Usually that means between noon and 5 p.m. If you can, get your work done before or after.
- If you must do something active between noon and 5 p.m., take frequent breaks. Rest inside or in the shade to allow your body to cool down.
Recognizing heatstroke in others
If you notice one or more of these symptoms in you or someone else, call 911 right away.
- Changed behavior or mental state. Mood swings, irritability or confusion may signal that things aren’t right.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Flushed skin.
- Rapid breathing, racing heart rate.
- Sweating or not sweating. Heatstroke from hot weather may lead to hot and dry skin, while heatstroke from exercise may lead to moist skin. Pay attention to both.
- High body temperature. If your temperature reaches 104°F, get medical attention immediately. This is the definition of heatstroke.
Take immediate action
Remember, heatstroke is a medical emergency. If you think someone is having heatstroke, call 911 and do the following:
- Move the affected person into shade or inside, preferably somewhere with air conditioning.
- Remove any excess clothing, like jackets, vests or hats.
- Cool them down by any available means. Put them in a tub of water, spray them with a hose or place a damp towel across their forehead.
- Be sure to learn how to protect the whole family from UV radiation on UK HealthCare’s website.
- Going swimming to beat the heat? Read our blog post about keeping your kids safe at the pool.