Water Can Help Prevent Heat Stroke

With summer in full swing and temps on the rise, it’s important to understand the seriousness of heat-related medical conditions. For example, dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are all very common and potentially dangerous medical conditions. Of the three, heat stroke is by far the most serious and the most dangerous. In fact, it can result in permanent disability or even death if left untreated.

According to the CDC, heat stroke “occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down.” (1) When a person is suffering from heat stroke, their body temperature can get dangerously high — 106° F or higher —in a very short amount of time. Under the wrong conditions, it takes just 10 to 15 minutes for this to occur.

Because this danger isn’t always understood, we wanted to give you some tools to help you understand heat stroke better. These tools include how to prevent heat stroke, some common signs of heat stroke and heat stroke first aid measures.

How to Prevent Heat Stroke

For heat stroke and other heat-related medical conditions, prevention is always much easier and far less scary than treatment. Thankfully, there are some simple precautions that can be put in place to help prevent heat stroke.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Our bodies generate a high amount of heat — especially during physical activities and high temperatures — and sweating is your body’s natural way of regulating its temperature. Drinking plenty of fluids like high-quality Culligan Drinking Water, juice, or sports drinks can make sure that your body is hydrated enough to produce sweat. Not all fluids are created equal, however. Alcohol and caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee, or soda can actually increase dehydration and put you in danger of heat stroke.

Schedule Your Activities and Drink Breaks

Scheduling physical activities for early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler can help you avoid heat-related conditions like heat stroke. In addition to finding the right time of day, make sure to include frequent drink breaks to allow yourself a chance to rehydrate. You can also use a spray bottle to mist yourself and help lower your body temperature.

Wear the Right Clothes and Protect Yourself from the Sun

We’re not saying you have to worry about being fashionable; we’re just saying that you should wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that is both tightly woven and light in color. This type of clothing can actually help your body stay cool by protecting it from the sun. You should also consider using sunscreen and wearing a hat and sunglasses whenever possible.

Be Smart About Time Spent in the Sun

When temperatures rise, it’s important to limit your time spent in the sun. Try to spend more time inside on hot days, especially in air conditioned buildings. Also, if you know you’re going to be spending a lot of time outside in the near future, start increasing your time outdoors gradually so that your body gets used to the heat.

And remember NEVER leave a child or pet in a closed car on a warm or sunny day!

Signs of Heat Stroke and Heat Stroke First Aid

Each individual who suffers heat stroke may experience symptoms differently. If you suspect that someone is suffering from heat stroke, make sure you seek emergency medical care by calling 911 or your local emergency number as soon as possible. Then, you should take measures to remove the person from the hot environment, help cool them down, and rehydrate them.

Signs of Heat Stroke:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Hot, dry skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Flushed appearance
  • High body temperature/fever
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid pulse
  • Seizure
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Sluggishness, fatigue, or physical weakness
  • Altered mental status — may include: irritability, agitation, confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, and/or slurred speech

Many people don’t realize just how serious heat stroke can be, but when it comes to heat stroke, minutes can matter. So, if you recognize the signs of heat stroke, don’t hesitate; instead, take action quickly and decisively. Who knows, you may end up saving a life.

Heat Stroke First Aid

  • Contact emergency medical services
  • If possible, move the person to a shaded area or inside an air conditioned building
  • Remove outer clothing layers and/or loosen tight clothing
  • Cool the person in any way possible, this may include:
    • Putting the person in a cool tub of water or a cool shower
    • Gently applying cool water to the person’s skin by misting or sponge/cloth application, then fanning the person to help circulate air and stimulate sweating
    • Placing cool, wet towels or ice packs on their head, neck, armpits, and groin
    • Gently spraying the person with water from a garden hose
    • Covering them with cool, damp sheets
  • Stay with the person until emergency medical help arrives

Beat the summer heat and don’t end up suffering from heat stroke. Be sure you have readily available drinking water, plan ahead and be smart about being outdoors.