Even short periods of high temperatures can cause serious health problems. Doing too much on a hot day, spending too much time in the sun, or staying too long in an overheated place can cause heat-related illnesses. The most serious is heat stroke. It can cause brain damage and even death.
Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature. This happens when the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106° F or higher within ten to fifteen minutes.
Warning signs of heat stroke may vary but can include body temperature above 103° F; throbbing headache; red, hot, dry skin with no sweating; fast, strong pulse; dizziness; nausea; and confusion. If you see someone with any of these signs, you may be witnessing a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call 911 while you begin cooling the person.
Do the following:
Get the person to a shady area.
Cool the person using whatever methods you can. Place the person in a tub of cool (not cold) water; place the person in a cool shower; spray or mist the person with cool water from a garden hose; sponge the person with cool water; or cover the person with damp sheets.
Get medical help as soon as possible.
Sometimes a person’s muscles will begin to twitch uncontrollably as a result of heat stroke. If this happens, keep the person from injuring himself. If there is vomiting, make sure the airway remains open by turning the person on his or her side.
Be sure to take care of yourself too. Heat-related illnesses are preventable. Keep cool and use common sense. Avoid hot foods and heavy meals. They add heat to your body. Drink plenty of fluids even before you are thirsty.
Try to limit your sun exposure during midday hours. Dress infants and children in cool, loose clothing. Use hats to shade their faces and heads. Dressing in cool clothes and wearing a hat is also good advice for adults. During extreme heat, do not leave children of any age in a parked car.