Preventing and Managing Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness.
People suffer heat-related illness when the body’s  temperature control system is overloaded. Heat stroke takes place when the following things happen:

  • The body can’t control its temperature,
  • The body’s temperature rises too fast,
  • A person’s sweating function fails,
  • The body is unable to cool down, and
  • The body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher in 10 to 15 minutes.

Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.

Warning signs of heat stroke vary but may include the following:

  • An very high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

What To Do if Someone is Seen with Warning Signs of Heat Stroke
If you see any of the above signs, the person’s life may be in danger. Therefore, do the following at once:

  • Get the person to a shady area.
  • Rapidly cool the person off, using whatever methods you can. For example,
  • Put the person in a tub of cool water; or in a cool shower;
  • Spray the person with cool water from a garden hose;
  • sponge the person with cool water; or
  • If the humidity is low, wrap the person in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously.
  • Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101-102°F.
  • If emergency medical personnel are delayed in arriving, call 9-1-1 or the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
  • Don’t give the person alcohol to drink.
  • Get medical assistance as soon as possible.

Persons at Greater Risk for Heat Related Illnesses

  • infants (under one (1) year of age,
  • children up to four (4) years of age,
  • people 65 years of age and older,
  • people who are overweight,
  • people who are already ill, and
  • people who are on certain medications
  • people with high blood pressure (hypertension) and
  • people who work or exercise in a hot environment.


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