Archive for the ‘heatstroke’ Tag

Heat exhaustion vs. heatstroke: What are the warning signs and how should you react?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on average, over 600 people die from complications related to extreme heat each year in the United States – more than tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, lightning or any other weather event combined.

Heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable, but it’s important to identify the warning signs and to react swiftly and appropriately when they arise.

What’s the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke?

Heat exhaustion is the precursor to heatstroke and is a direct result of the body overheating.

According to Mayo Clinic, heat exhaustion is identifiable by heavy sweating, rapid pulse, dizziness, fatigue, cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat, muscle cramps, nausea and headache.

These symptoms may develop over time or come on suddenly, especially during or following periods of prolonged exercise.

When heat exhaustion is not addressed, heatstroke can follow.

Heatstroke is the most severe heat-related illness and, without emergency treatment, it can lead to death. It results when your body temperature rises to 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

“This is pretty complicated because a lot of things can happen. The short answer is it certainly can be fatal…,” Peter Sananman, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Penn Medicine, said.

At this temperature, your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles can also become damaged, leading to serious complications or death.
In the case of heatstroke, seeking medical attention is an absolute must, Sananman said.

In addition to a high body temperatures, the symptoms of heatstroke include altered mental state or behavior, nausea and vomiting, flushed skin, rapid breathing and racing heart rate.

“Generally with heat exhaustion, a patient is sweating a lot, whereas with heat stroke, they’ve stopped sweating and are actually dry. It’s a good rule of thumb but isn’t always true,” he said.

If heat exhaustion is suspected, Sananman advises to remove the sufferer from heat and cool them down, if possible.

This can be done by getting out of the sun and removing or loosening tight clothes, misting the body with water or placing ice packs in the armpits and groin.

Additionally, rehydration is key. Consume plenty of water and avoid beverages that contain alcohol, caffeine or high amounts of sugar, he said.

If you or someone else is experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical attention.

How can you prevent heat-related illness?

Though it’s important to know how to identify heat exhaustion and heatstroke, both are preventable illnesses.
Have situational awareness, Sananman said.

“Recognize your own symptoms and either go to a cool location/rest or ask for help if you have difficulty getting around,” he said.
Additionally, understand that the body does acclimatize to heat, but it will take days to do so.

“So if you haven’t been in the heat in many weeks or months, just be aware that your body will not handle it as well as it may have in the past when you were acclimatized,” he said.

Proactively hydrating will help keep the body at a safe temperature.

“Drink more than what you think you should,” Kent Knable, EMS chief at Centre Life Link, said. “Once you start feeling thirsty, you’re actually dehydrated. So, you should be drinking to the point where you’re not feeling thirsty at all.”

Additionally, respond immediately if you start feeling ill.

“If you’re starting to feel ill, or are not feeling well, get out of the sun. Get into the shade,” Knable said. “Getting the sun off of you and some cool air blowing against you will help lower your temperature.”

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Heat Illnesses Can be Fatal; Would You Know What to Do?

Did you know your body is constantly in a struggle to disperse the heat it produces? Most of the time, you’re hardly aware of it – unless your body is exposed to more heat than it can handle.

In 2011, 587 people died in the U.S. from exposure to excessive heat, according to Injury Facts 2015, the annual statistical report on unintentional injuries produced by the National Safety Council. Heat-related illnesses can escalate rapidly, leading to delirium, organ damage and even death.

There are several heat-related illnesses, including heatstroke (the most severe), heat exhaustion and heat cramps. Those most at risk include:

Infants and young children

Elderly people


Individuals with heart or circulatory problems or other long-term illness

People who work outdoors

Athletes and people who like to exercise – especially beginners

Individuals taking medications that alter sweat production

Alcoholics and drug abusers


Heatstroke can occur when the ability to sweat fails and body temperature rises quickly. The brain and vital organs are effectively “cooked” as body temperature rises to a dangerous level in a matter of minutes. Heatstroke is often fatal, and those who do survive may have permanent damage to their organs.

Someone experiencing heatstroke will have extremely hot skin, and an altered mental state, ranging from slight confusion to coma. Seizures also can result. Ridding the body of excess heat is crucial for survival.

Move the person into a half-sitting position in the shade

Call for emergency medical help immediately

If humidity is below 75%, spray the victim with water and fan them vigorously; if humidity is above 75%, apply ice to neck, armpits or groin

Do not give aspirin or acetaminophen

Do not give the victim anything to drink

Heat Exhaustion

When the body loses an excessive amount of salt and water, heat exhaustion can set in. People who work outdoors and athletes are particularly susceptible.

Symptoms are similar to those of the flu and can include severe thirst, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting and, sometimes, diarrhea. Other symptoms include profuse sweating, clammy or pale skin, dizziness, rapid pulse and normal or slightly elevated body temperature.

Uncontrolled heat exhaustion can evolve into heatstroke, so make sure to treat the victim quickly.

Move them to a shaded or air-conditioned area

Give them water or other cool, nonalcoholic beverages

Apply wet towels or having them take a cool shower

Heat cramps

Heat cramps are muscle spasms that usually affect the legs or abdominal muscles, often after physical activity. Excessive sweating reduces salt levels in the body, which can result in heat cramps.

Workers or athletes with pain or spasms in the abdomen, arms or legs should not return to work for a few hours. Instead:

Sit or lie down in the shade.

Drink cool water or a sports drink.

Stretch affected muscles.

Seek medical attention if you have heart problems or if the cramps don’t get better in an hour.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers more information on heat-related illness in this FAQ.

The best way to avoid a heat-related illness is to limit exposure outdoors during hot days. Air conditioning is the best way to cool off, according to the CDC. Also:

Drink more liquid than you think you need and avoid alcohol

Wear loose, lightweight clothing and a hat

Replace salt lost from sweating by drinking fruit juice or sports drinks

Avoid spending time outdoors during the hottest part of the day, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Wear sunscreen; sunburn affects the body’s ability to cool itself

Pace yourself when you run or otherwise exert your body

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Cars & Pet Safety: How To Keep Dogs Safe In The Heat

Dogs are beloved pets that frequently travel with their owners on outings and everyday errands. But when the temperatures climb during the summer and early autumn months, exiting the car and leaving Fido behind can quickly become a deadly situation for the dog.

How bad could it get? Here are some examples of outside/inside closed automobile temperatures from Red Rover, citing a study by the Animal Protection Institute.

Outside, the temperature may be 82 degrees Fahrenheit at 9:00 a.m., but inside the car the reading could be 109 degrees. At noon, the outside temperature in summer could be 101 degrees. Inside the vehicle, it could soar to 119 degrees. At 2:30 p.m., when it’s 104 degrees outside, the car’s interior – where the dog is suffering – could reach 120 degrees.

Only 14 states have laws that specifically prohibit leaving an animal in a confined vehicle: Arizona, California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia. Numerous local ordinances also prohibit leaving animals in parked vehicles.

Signs of heatstroke in dogs

Warning signs that a dog may be suffering from heatstroke include: heavy panting, profuse salivation, rapid pulse, very red gums/tongue, lethargy, difficulty breathing, disorientation, stumbling or poor coordination, diarrhea or vomiting, collapse or loss of consciousness, seizure and respiratory arrest.

Dogs with short noses, such as Pugs, are more prone to heat illness, as are thick-coated dogs such as Pomeranians and Huskies. Other dogs more susceptible to heatstroke include the very old and very young, dogs with certain illnesses and those on some medications.

Tips for keeping dogs safe in cars in the heat

Common sense, along with state or local laws, dictates that dogs, other pets, and children never be left alone in parked cars – especially in the heat. If you opt to bring your dog with you in the car, take him with you when you exit the vehicle, even if it’s only for a few minutes. During hot days, car temperatures can soar in a matter of minutes, which could prove fatal for your pet.

If you won’t be able to bring the dog with you while you run errands, it’s better to leave him at home. Cracking a window does nothing to eliminate the risk. It’s just not safe for your dog alone in a parked vehicle.

Other ways to keep Fido safe and cool in the heat during car travel include:

– Place a weighted bowl with water in the car. It needs to be weighted so that the dog cannot knock it over.

– Carry extra water with you and give it to the doge frequently in small amounts.

– Groom the dog regularly to get rid of excessive hair. Long-haired dogs should get a haircut at the beginning of summer and later, as necessary.

– Dogs can get sunburned on noses and their ears. Ask the vet about a pet-safe sunscreen to protect those delicate areas.

If you see a dog in a parked car in obvious signs of distress, call the police immediately, say the experts, as the dog needs immediate medical attention.

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