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Identifying and Avoiding Heatstroke

Identifying and Avoiding Heatstroke

By Kevin Cleary

 

                With temperatures and humidity increasing during the dog days of summer, it’s more important than ever to understand and identify signs of distress brought on by excessive heat. The heat of summer can affect us in many negative ways, such as hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), heatstroke, or even heat cramps. All of these are uncomfortable by themselves, but if continued exposure to high temperatures is paired with excessive exercise in hot weather a much more devastating experience can develop. This is called heatstroke and is not as benign as the aforementioned afflictions if left untreated.
 

Identifying and Avoiding Heatstroke

Know the Symptoms of Heatstroke

We’ve all over exerted ourselves during hot days, but heatstroke is a completely different animal. Believe it or not it can be fatal!! Being out in high temperatures or overexertion during high temperatures can lead to our body temperatures soaring over 104° and this can bring about the onset of heatstroke. Heatstroke is a 911 moment. If left untreated, heatstroke can affect your internal organs as well as your brain and muscles. Mayoclinic.org lists several symptoms of heatstroke that include:

  1. High Body Temperature: Heatstroke can raise your internal body temperature to above 104°.
  2. Altered Mental State or Behavior: Heatstroke can cause confusion, agitation, and slurred speech, not to mention seizures and coma.
  3. Sweating: If your heatstroke is brought on by heat, your skin will feel hot and dry, but heatstroke brought on by exercise can result in moist skin.
  4. Flushed Skin: As your body temperature rises, your skin may turn red.
  5. Rapid Breathing/Elevated Heart Rate: Your breathing may become quick and shallow, while your heart rate may increase significantly since your heart is being asked to cool your body.

By understanding the signals your body is telling you, this can lead to you taking steps to help treat the danger of heatstroke. You can use an infrared thermometer with digital readout by Mabis DMI, to accurately get an idea of the affected person’s temperature. Actions to alleviate the negative effects of heatstroke include: getting affected person into shade, removing any excess clothing, and using any means necessary to cool off the individual (cool water, misting fans, or even ice/ice packs if available).

Identifying and Avoiding Heatstroke

Take Action 

Identifying and Avoiding Heatstroke
The first thing you need to do is to remove someone who might be experiencing heatstroke from any kind of sunlight. The heat from the sun doesn’t make cooling down any easier. If the sufferer is in a wheelchair, you can use the Wheelchair Umbrella made by Sammons Preston to provide protection from rain and harsh rays of sun. Some of the most vulnerable to the dangerous heat of summer are the elderly. Instead of using an everyday cane, they should utilize the sun protection Umbrella Cane. This is completely functional as a cane and in a pinch can provide shade and a respite from direct sunshine and heat. Sunshade for electric scooters makes shade mobile for the user. Shade is our first weapon in the fight against heatstroke.


Cool It Down

Identifying and Avoiding HeatstrokeOnce removed from direct sunlight, the next step in treating heatstroke is to cool down the affected individual. The best way to achieve this is with the use of water as well as ice or ice packs. Cold sprays can cool down affected skin and provide relief from hot conditions. They have a topical coolant that evaporates on contact with the skin lowering surface temperature and providing relief from heat. It’s a great addition to any first-aid kit!! Another way to cool skin temperature is with an ice pack. The reusable cold compress by 3M provides cold therapy in an effective way. It is a ready to use first aid tool. It can be applied directly to the skin without any cover and does not require refrigeration. Having ice packs available can be a lifesaver and the Instant Cold Pack can provide immediate relief. It requires just a quick squeeze to activate the cooling effect. One way to get wide application of cooling ice is with multi-purpose ice bags. They make it easy to apply the cooling effects of ice over many parts of your body, including the head and neck. Evaporation is a great way to cool our bodies. By misting water on your body and using a floor fan, you can use evaporation to cool down someone affected by heatstroke. Be proactive, don’t wait too long to identify and treat any sign of heatstroke.