This summer is projected to be one of the hottest on record. It is very important to know the signs of heat illness and how best to treat this ailment. Many of CMC’s dedicated field weatherization experts routinely work in hot attics and crawlspaces while spending many hours on the road or outdoors. They are regularly exposed to conditions that cause heat-related illnesses. Knowing the warning signs of heat illness can save your life or the life of a friend or crew member.
Heat illness can take on many forms from uncomfortable to life-threatening. The human body has evolved to automatically cool our internal temperatures when we overheat. But, if the outside temperature is too hot (or too humid), these bodily mechanisms are not as effective. This is when problematic heat illness can quickly onset.
The term “heat illness” is an all-encompassing term for numerous forms of heat-related ailments including, heat syncope, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat stroke. Click below to learn how to best manage heat illness, recognize warning signs and what emergency actions to take.
- Heat Syncope: This is a common heat illness. Heat syncope can happen if you are standing still in the heat for too long without getting adequate circulation. We’ve all been to that summer wedding in a venue with no air conditioning. When you feel dizzy and lightheaded due to the heat, you are experiencing heat syncope.
- Remedy: Stop doing your activity and rest in a cool place. Getting into an air-conditioned building is best, but at the very least, find a shady spot or sit in front of a fan. Remember to drink cool fluids, specifically water or sports drinks.
- Heat Cramps: These cramps occur after strenuous activity in the heat due to salt depletion in your body from excess sweating. Heat cramps can occur in your arms, legs and/or stomach.
- Remedy: Immediately stop the strenuous activity and rest in a cool (or shaded) place. Drinking water will help, but consuming a sports drink (or juice) with electrolytes is the best course of action.
- Heat Exhaustion: This ailment is caused by the loss of a large amount of fluids due to sweating. Symptoms include confusion, excess sweating, pale skin and loss of motor skills.
- Remedy: Remove the person from the hot environment, help them to cool down and give them liquids to drink. Stay with the person until they are better or if they are exhibiting more severe symptoms call 911 immediately.
- Heat Stroke: When someone has heat stroke this means they cannot cool down anymore and their internal systems are going haywire. This is one of the most serious heat-related illnesses. The affected person might have trouble talking or understanding what’s wrong.
- Remedy: Immediately call 911 for medical attention. Remove the person from the hot environment and try to cool them down by removing excess clothing and fanning the person.
Heat illness can happen to anyone. Staying hydrated and managing heat stress will keep you safe all summer long. For more information on heat stress click here. Let’s all have a great and safe summer!