Well, it’s that time of the year again. We are going to start getting those beautiful sunny days and high temperatures in the 90’s. Outdoor activities significantly increase.
It is very critical that everyone realizes there is a hidden danger out there. It is called heat exhaustion, heat stroke and heat cramps. During this time we must take the time to increase our consumption of water. The most important thing to do is to take adequate water or other fluid replacement drinks with you and drink it continuously. When the ambient temperature is 95 F, you need to intake about a quart of fluid per hour. because of the diuretic effect (water loss) of caffeine and alcohol, it is not recommended that you consume beverages containing these drugs.
Physiology of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke Prevention
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be prevented by following these steps:
- Do not stay in or leave anyone in closed, parked cars during hot weather.
- Take caution when you must be in the sun. At the first signs of heat exhaustion, get out of the sun or your body temperature will continue to rise.
- Do not exercise vigorously during the hottest times of the day.
- If the outside temperature is 82 degrees F or above and the humidity is high, do your activity for a shorter time.
- Wear light, loose fitting clothing, such as cotton, so sweat can evaporate.
- Wear wide brimmed hats that allow for air flow.
- Drink lots of liquids, especially if your urine is a dark yellow, to replace the fluids you lose from sweating. Water and electrolyte drinks are recommended. Thirst is not a reliable sign that your body needs fluids. When you exercise, it is better to sip rather than gulp the liquids.
- Drink water or water with salt added if you sweat a lot. (Use 1/2 teaspoon salt in 1 quart of water.) Sport drinks such as Gatorade, All Sport and PowerAde are good too.
- If you feel very hot, try to cool off. Open a window, use a fan or turn on an air conditioner.
- limit your stay in hot tubs or heated whirlpools to 15 minutes. Don’t use them when you are alone.
- Do not drink alcohol or beverages with caffeine. These items increase fluid loss.
- Stay out of the sun if you are taking water pills, mood altering or antispasmodic medications. Check which ones are safe with your doctor.
- Do not bundle a baby in blankets or heavy clothing. Infants don’t tolerate heat well because their sweat glands are not well developed.
- Some people perspire more than others. Those who perspire heavily should drink as much fluid as they can during hot, humid days.
- Know the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion and don’t ignore them!
Heat Injuries treatment
|Heat cramps||The casualty experiences muscle cramps of arms, legs, and/or stomach. The casualty may also have
heavy sweating (wet skin) and extreme thirst.
| 1. Move the casualty to a shady area or improvise shade and loosen his clothing.
2. Give him large amounts of cool water slowly.
3. Monitor the casualty and give him more water as tolerated.
4. Seek medical aid if the cramps continue.
|Heat exhaustion||The casualty often experiences profuse (heavy) sweating with pale, moist, cool skin; headache, weakness, dizziness, and/or loss of appetite. The casualty sometimes experiences heat cramps, nausea (with or without vomiting), urge to defecate, chills (goose flesh), rapid breathing, confusion, and tingling of the hands and/or feet.|| 1. Move the casualty to a cool, shady area or improvise shade and loosen/remove his clothing.
2. Pour water on him and fan him to permit coolant effect of evaporation.
3. Have him slowly drink at least one 12 oz glass full of water.
4. Elevate the casualty’s legs.
5. Seek medical aid if symptoms continue; monitor the casualty until the symptoms are gone or medical aid arrives.
Can be Fatal!!
|The casualty stops sweating (red [flushed] hot, dry skin). He first may experience headache, dizziness, nausea, fast pulse and respiration, seizures, and mental confusion. He may collapse and suddenly become unconscious. THIS IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY||
1. Move the casualty to a cool, shady area or improvise shade and loosen or remove the outer garments if the situation permits.
2. Start cooling the casualty immediately. Spray or pour water on him. Fan him. Massage his extremities and skin.
3. Elevate his legs.
4. If conscious, have him slowly drink at least one 20oz full glass of water.
5. SEEK MEDICAL AID. CONTINUE COOliNG WHILE AWAITING TRANSPORT AND DURING EVACUATION. EVACUATE AS SOON AS POSSIbLE. PERFORM ANY NECESSARY LIFESAVING MEASURES.