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By: Jody Marquette, RN educator, LIFE Lawrence County
As the temperatures start to rise, so does the risk of heat related emergencies. These conditions are caused by overexposure to heat and loss of fluids and electrolytes. There are three stages of heat-related emergencies you should be aware of:
Heat Cramps – Symptoms include painful muscle spasms (most often in the calves, arms, stomach and back) and severe sweating and headaches. To treat symptoms, you need to get to a cool area and hydrate yourself with water (best option) or an electrolyte replacement drink. Stay in the cool environment until symptoms subside.
Heat Exhaustion – Symptoms are similar to heat cramps, but as the problem progresses you will experience dizziness, nausea, vomiting or faint feeling. You need to call for emergent intervention. Continue as above by going to a cool area, hydrating, loosening or removing as much clothing as possible and placing cool, damp cloths to armpits, groin and neck to cool your body. Remember to hydrate slowly with 4 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes as long as the person is conscious and able to swallow.
Heat Stroke – Develops when the body systems are overwhelmed by heat and begin to stop functioning. This is a life-threatening condition. Symptoms include high body temperature, red skin, confusion, passing out and even seizures. Call for emergent intervention and follow instructions above.
Enjoy the warm weather safely be being aware of your environment!