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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Heat Illness Awareness

It's hot out there, y'all. Across the country and around the world, record high temperatures have been recently recorded. Firehand posted a great recipe for a roll-your-own hydration beverage without the sugar of commercial products, which I'm looking forward to testing. While prevention is always best, even the best of us sometimes makes mistakes in the heat. That's when it's critical that you can recognize and treat the various stages of heat illnesses.

Heat Stress/Heat Cramps
Characterized by flushed, moist or clammy skin and painful cramps in the extremities, this is the beginning stage of heat illness. If you can catch heat illness at this point, treatment is simple and fairly easy:
  • Move the victim to a cool, shady area where they can rest.
  • Remove any excess clothing, modesty permitting. 
  • Put cool, wet rags on exposed skin, especially wrists, inside elbows, and the back of the neck/head.
  • Get the person drinking a sports or electrolyte drink.
  • Stretch and massage out any cramps (if you like the person a lot, you can massage them; otherwise, have them do it themselves). 

Heat Exhaustion
The next illness in this progression, and far more serious, is heat exhaustion. The previous muscle cramps continue, accompanied by pale, moist or clammy skin, and frequently a fever. The patient may also exhibit vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, weakness, and headache. Rapid treatment is critical at this point to keep the victim from getting far worse.
  • Move the victim to a cool, shady place and have them rest.
  • Remove any excess clothing, down to the underwear. Health is more important than modesty at this point. 
  • Put cool, wet rags on exposed skin, especially wrists, inside elbows, and the back of the neck/head.
  • Get the person drinking a sports or electrolyte drink.
  • If the person does not respond to this treatment, call 911 or your local emergency number and summon EMS. 

Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition requiring immediate and rapid professional treatment. Symptoms include all of the same as heat exhaustion, with the addition of a rapid heart rate, confusion, lethargy, stupor, agitation, and possibly seizures and coma. The skin is also dry and warm.
  • Immediately call 911 (or your local emergency number) and summon EMS.
  • Move the victim to a cool, shady place and have them rest.
  • Remove any excess clothing, and drench exposed skin with cool water. Again, health is more important than modesty. 
  • Place ice packs on the person's groin and armpit areas.
  • If the person is alert and able, have them drink cool fluids.
Be aware of yourself, as well as those around you, and be on the lookout for heat illnesses as the thermometer climbs.

Lokidude

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