Safety Tips from the New Vernon Volunteer First Aid Squad: Treating Heat Exhaustion
During the warm summer months many people enjoy being outside and engaging in exercise or yard work. Physical activity is healthy, but hot weather raises the possibility of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke. American Red Cross recommends that you wear lightweight, light-colored clothing, carry water or juice and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty, avoid alcohol and caffeine, eat small meals and eat more often, and take regular breaks when engaged in physical activity on hot days.
In case of any heat-related emergency, take the following actions:
1. Lower Body Temperature: Get the person out of the heat and into a cool environment. If air-conditioning is not available, fan the person. Spray the person with a garden hose, get him or her into a cool shower or bath, apply cool compresses, or give the person a cool sponge bath.
2. Rehydrate: Give cool, nonalcoholic and non-caffeinated beverages every 15 minutes as long as the person is alert.
3. Rest: Have the person avoid physical activity for the rest of the day.
4. See a Health Care Provider That Day If: Symptoms get worse, last more than an hour, or the person is nauseated or vomiting. Untreated heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke.
Call 911 immediately if the patient shows any of the below symptoms which could indicate heat stroke:
1. Very high, weak pulse rate and rapid shallow breathing, especially when combined with high or low blood pressure
2. Unconsciousness, confusion, or seizures
3. Warm, dry skin and high body temperature over 102°F.