Heat Stroke

Summer is here …. finally!!!! We all want to enjoy the sunny days, but with summer heat comes some dangers. Heat Stroke is one such danger!  Did you know that heat stroke is a very serious emergency that has killed over 9000 people from 1979 and 2013?  While for most people summer means being outdoors and enjoying the warm weather, lots of care is still necessary. Knowing how to prevent heat stroke and beat the heat can be the difference between a fun and enjoyable summer, and something very different.

Recognizing Heat Stroke

While heat stroke can be very dangerous, it is often very easy to recognize. That’s because heat stroke has lots of noticeable symptoms. Some of these symptoms include:

  • High body temperature. A core body temperature of 40° or higher is the main symptom of heat stroke.
  • Altered mental state. Confusion, agitation, coma or seizures can all be a result of heat stroke
  • Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick to your stomach and/or vomit
  • Flushed skin. Your skin may turn red due to heat stroke
  • Rapid breathing. Your breathing may become shallow and rapid
  • Increased heart rate. Your heart rate may increase.
  • Headache. You may experience a throb in your head.

If you experience any of these symptoms while in extreme heat, you should seek medical help immediately.

What To Do If Someone Has Heat Stroke

If someone already has heat stroke, there are steps that can be taken to help that person but when in doubt it’s better to call 911. Some important treatments for heat stroke include: 
  • Get the person out of the heat immediately. If nowhere cool is available, at least get them to the shade.
  • Have them lie down and elevate their legs. This is effective in helping blood pump to the heart.
  • Take off any tight or extra clothing. Removing tight clothing will help in cooling the victim.
  • Apply cool towels or take a cool bath. This will help decrease the body temperature faster

However, while these treatments can be effective you must call 9-1-1 if:

  • Symptoms don’t improve or they still have a fever of 102° F after 30 minutes of treatment.
  • The person goes into shock, faints or has seizures.
  • The person is not breathing. You may attempt CPR immediately.

After Suffering Heat Stroke

After having heat stroke, many procedures must be taken to ensure a safe and easy recovery. These procedures include:

  • Resting and letting the body recover.
  • Avoid hot weather and exercise.
  • Ask your doctor on when it’s safe to resume normal activities.

Preventing Heat Stroke

At the end of the day there is a lot you can do to overcome heat stroke, but the easiest thing to do is prevent it. Heat stroke is very preventable. By taking basic steps in extreme heat, heat stroke can be prevented altogether. A few of the many defenses against heat stroke include:

  • Wear loose fitting lightweight clothing. Wearing excess clothing or tight-fitting clothing limits your body’s ability to properly cool off.
  • Protect against sunburn. A sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself as it raises the temperature of the body. Apply lots of sunscreen of SPF of at least fifteen every two hours, or more frequency if you’re swimming or exercising.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated will help the body sweat naturally and will help the body to stay cool.
  • Never leave anyone in a parked car. The temperature of a car can raise twenty degrees in ten minutes. This makes it a common cause of death in the summer.
  • Don’t over-exert yourself during the hottest parts of the day. Try to schedule any exercise or labor for cooler parts of the day. Try to avoid strenuous physical activity for the hours or 11AM until 3PM.
  • Get acclimated to your climate before exercising. If possible, limit time working or exercising in the sun until you’re conditioned to working in those conditions. People not acclimated to their climate are more susceptible to heat related illness.
  • Rest if your feel tired or weak. Frequent rest in the shade can help to naturally lower the body temperature and cool off during any strenuous activity in the sun.
  • Apply wet towels to your neck or wear a wet headband. Applying wet towels to the head or forehead are great ways to lower the body’s temperature and to help beat the heat.
  • Don’t drink alcohol in excess. Drinking alcohol can affect the body’s ability to regulate temperature, so drinking it in extreme heat is not recommended.
  • Wear hats or sunglasses while outside. Wearing these can help protect you from headaches, sunburn on the face and can help keep you cool.
  • Check in with elderly people who may need help. The elderly have been proven to be more susceptible to heat stroke so it’s always a good idea to check in with elderly family and friends at least once a day in extreme heat.

Check out this video from Health Care Providers if you are still not sure


Warm weather can mean a lot of fun in the sun with family and friends. But be sure to keep yourself and those you care about safe by practicing these heat stroke prevention methods