Protecting Yourself Against the Heat
Kevin Craven is the director of Emergency Services at Banner Desert Medical Center.
Question: As the summer months approach, what are some tips to keeping cool in the high temperatures?
Answer: As residents of Arizona, it’s important to be aware of how the searing heat can affect your body. This is especially important to anyone who works outside, regardless of what time they do the work, and for anyone who enjoys exercising or being outdoors regularly.
Excessive heat can create serious medical problems. Heat exhaustion, typically the first stage of any heat-related illness, presents itself as dizziness or heavy thirst. Heat exhaustion can typically be treated by moving yourself into a cool location, drinking plenty of cool water or hydrating fluids, and resting until your body temperature is restored.
If you don’t listen to your body, or if your body temperature cannot be restored, you are probably close to having a heat stroke. Heat stroke is a true medical emergency and can be fatal if not treated properly. A form of hyperthermia, heat stroke means that the body temperature is abnormally elevated and cannot regulate itself.
Different people have different signs, but common symptoms include:
- High body temperature
- A body no longer sweating, with hot red or flushed skin
- Difficulty breathing
- Hallucinations or strange behavior
If you think someone is having a heat stroke Following are some important tips to keep in mind:
- First and foremost, call 911 and then try to cool the victim.
- Move them to a shady area or indoors to the air conditioning.
- Remove heavy clothing, apply cool or tepid water to the skin, or fan the victim to promote sweating.
- Other tactics include placing icepacks under the person’s armpits or in the groin area, or placing them in a cool pool, bath or shower. If you do put a person in the water, make sure that someone is there to monitor them so they don’t drown.
Once an ambulance arrives, the emergency medical technicians will probably recommend the victim go to the hospital for tests. Because heat stroke can affect a body’s internal organs, it is important to get checked by a medical expert even if your temperature has returned to normal.