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Understanding and Managing Heat-Related Illnesses: What to Do

Understanding and Managing Heat-Related Illnesses: What to Do

As temperatures soar during the summer months, the risk of heat-related illnesses increases. Knowing how to recognize and respond to these conditions is crucial for staying safe. Here’s a guide on what to do if you or someone else experiences a heat-related illness.

Types of Heat-Related Illnesses

  1. Heat Cramps

  2. Heat Exhaustion

  3. Heat Stroke

1. Heat Cramps


  • Painful muscle cramps, usually in the legs, arms, or abdomen

  • Heavy sweating during intense exercise

What to Do:

  • Stop any physical activity and move to a cool place.

  • Drink water or a sports drink containing electrolytes.

  • Avoid salt tablets as they can worsen the condition.

  • Stretch and gently massage the affected muscles.

  • Wait a few hours before resuming strenuous activities.

2. Heat Exhaustion


  • Heavy sweating

  • Weakness or fatigue

  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin

  • Fast, weak pulse

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Fainting or dizziness

  • Muscle cramps

What to Do:

  • Move the person to a cooler, air-conditioned environment.

  • Lay them down and elevate their legs slightly.

  • Remove excess clothing.

  • Apply cool, wet cloths to the skin or have them take a cool bath.

  • Have them sip water slowly.

  • Monitor them closely. If symptoms worsen or last longer than an hour, seek medical attention.

3. Heat Stroke


  • High body temperature (104°F or higher)

  • Hot, red, dry, or damp skin

  • Rapid, strong pulse

  • Headache

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Confusion or disorientation

  • Loss of consciousness

What to Do:

  • Call 911 immediately – heat stroke is a medical emergency.

  • Move the person to a cooler place.

  • Try to cool them down with whatever methods are available, such as a cool bath, wet cloths, or a fan.

  • Do not give the person anything to drink.

  • Monitor their condition closely until emergency help arrives.

Prevention Tips

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they can dehydrate you.

  • Wear Appropriate Clothing: Choose lightweight, loose-fitting, and light-colored clothing. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses can provide additional protection.

  • Take Breaks: Rest in shaded or air-conditioned areas, especially during the hottest parts of the day.

  • Use Sunscreen: Protect your skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30.

  • Monitor the Weather: Stay informed about the weather conditions and plan outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day.

  • Acclimatize: Allow your body to gradually adjust to high temperatures, especially if you’re engaging in physical activity.

Heat-related illnesses are serious and can escalate quickly if not addressed properly. By recognizing the symptoms and knowing how to respond, you can help prevent these conditions from becoming life-threatening. Stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay vigilant during the hot summer months to ensure a safe and enjoyable season.

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