People are usually able to cool themselves by emitting heat through their skin and by sweating. But under conditions of extreme heat, high humidity that prevents sweat from evaporating, or working or exercising in hot temperatures, the human body can rise above 104° Fahrenheit or 40° Celsius, resulting in heat stroke.
Heat stroke, which occurs more often during hot months of the year, can be life-threatening and therefore requires immediate attention. In the United States alone, every year there are an average of 702 heat-related deaths, 67,512 emergency department visits due to heat, and 9,235 hospitalizations because of heat.
Symptoms of heat stroke include:
- A high body temperature
- Rapid heartbeat
- Quick and shallow breathing
- Flushed skin
- Confusion or disorientation
- Slurred speech
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
If someone is suffering from heat stroke, do the following:
- Call for emergency medical help, if possible
- Move them indoors where it is cooler, or into the shade if available
- Remove any unnecessary clothing
- Place them on their side so a maximum amount of body surface is exposed to the air and can cool down
- Blow cool air across their body
- Apply cold water-soaked towels to their skin
- Place ice packs on their head and neck, as well as underarm and groin areas.
- If they are able to move, immerse them in a tub of cold water or place them in a cold shower
Even if a person’s body temperature goes down to normal levels without medical intervention, it’s important for them to seek medical help so they can be examined and monitored by a qualified professional to ensure they haven’t suffered any brain or other organ damage.