Last weekend, it was hot. Wicked hot. And I was out in it.
It got me thinking about what can happen to someone if they are undone by the heat. What would it look like? And, more importantly, what could I do to help? So, I did some research. I hope you will indulge me as I share some of what I learned.
The ills brought on from excessive heat can range from something as mild as a heat rash - a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather - to a heat stroke – the most serious heat-related illness.
A heat rash shows up as red clusters of pimples or small blisters and can be helped by moving to a cooler, less humid environment, keeping the area dry, and applying powder for comfort.
Symptoms for heat cramps – a bit more serious – include muscle cramps, pain, or spasms in the abdomen, arms, or legs. This individual should drink water and have a snack or drink that replaces carbs and electrolytes; and they should avoid salt tablets.
Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of water and salt, usually through extreme sweating. It is most likely to affect the elderly, people with high blood pressure, and those working in a hot environment. Symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, thirst, heavy sweating, elevated body temperatures, and decreased urine output.
If someone shows these symptoms, they should be taken to a clinic or emergency room for medical evaluation and treatment or call 911. Move them from the heat and give them liquids to drink. Remove unnecessary clothing, including shoes and socks; and cool with cold compresses, while also encouraging frequent sips of cool water.
And then there’s heat stroke – the most serious. It happens when the body can no longer control its temperature. As the body temperature rises, the system that causes us to sweat (cooling the body) stops working. Body temperatures can rise to 106 degrees very quickly. Heat stroke can cause permanent disability, or even death, if the person does not receive treatment quickly.
What does it look like? Confusion, slurred speech, sometimes loss of consciousness. Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating. The individual might even have seizures. If this occurs, call 911 for emergency care. Move the individual to a shaded, cool area. Cool them with cold water, or an ice bath if possible. Place a cold wet cloth on their skin. Soak their clothing with cool water.
As I’m sharing this, I feel like I need to remind everyone that I am not a doctor. I am not providing medical advice. I am simply sharing some facts and tips that I pulled from the internet. Summer is almost here. The temperatures will continue to climb. And, let’s face it, we’re an active bunch. We do a lot outside.
I don’t want anything bad to happen to you. And if something does, I want us all to be prepared. At the very least, we can know what it looks like when the heat takes its toll.
Let’s keep looking out for one another.