This April saw the sudden emergence of a mini heat wave with temperatures creeping towards 30C. As much as this weather is a joy to be outside in it’s still important to take the necessary precautions to enjoy it safely. One particular risk the hot weather brings is heat stroke, which can result in serious situations. Children, the elderly and those with certain medical conditions are at an enhanced risk of developing heat stroke. To help protect against it here’s a guide on prevention and treatment of the condition.
Causes of Heat Stroke and How to Prevent It
Before heat stroke occurs, it is preceded by heat exhaustion. To prevent the onset of heat exhaustion it’s important to keep the body cool and retain your energy levels. This can be done by:
- Staying hydrated, ideally with cold water
- Eating enough to retain energy
- Not over exerting yourself physically and knowing when to rest
- Finding shade or going indoors when you begin to get too hot
- Not drinking too much alcohol
- Wear clothing that helps cooling, loose and light coloured is best
- Use a fan or spray cool water on the skin to keep your temperature down.
These simple habits are especially important for children, the elderly and those with diabetes or heart issues – as mentioned – but anyone should take the necessary precautions as heat stroke or exhaustion can affect anyone.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke and Treating the Condition
Sometimes even doing your best to take precautions isn’t enough to totally prevent the onset of heat exhaustion and symptoms may begin to appear. These include:
- Headache and dizziness
- Confusion and absent mindedness
- Nausea and a lack of appetite
- Heavy sweating, clammy skin and loss of colour
- Cramps throughout your body
- Quick breathing and pulse
- High temperature of 38-40C
- Dehydration and thirst
- Children may become sleepy and go limp.
In the event of these symptoms cooling down is essential. This can be done by following many of the same methods as those for prevention. Heat exhaustion is not a serious condition if tackled quickly and will likely subside in 30 minutes. However, if it does not this can point to the more serious issue of heat stroke. Heat stroke can be identified by one or more of the following symptoms:
- A failure to cool down after half an hour
- The person is very hot but not sweating
- A temperature over 40C and over
- Very rapid breathing and pulse
- Having a seizure or fit
- A loss of consciousness
Some of these symptoms contradict one another as certain people will respond to overheating differently, but all can indicate serious cases of heat stroke. Regardless of which symptoms show up you should call 999 as medical attention is necessary to prevent serious damage or even a fatality.
Although heat stroke can seem scary it’s important to remember it’s easily preventable. Just keep yourself cool and you’ll enjoy the sunny weather to the fullest.