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Signs of Heat Illness

Hot weather can be dangerous. Many people become sick and even die from heat-related illnesses every year.

People get heat-related illnesses when their bodies can't cool down quickly enough to stay in a healthy temperature range. Some people are at greater risk of heat illness than others, such as babies and older adults.

Heat illness is preventable – the best way is to stay indoors in an air-conditioned space, and to drink plenty of water

Heat Exhaustion
Heat Stroke
Heat Cramps
Heat Rash

  • Heat Exhaustion

    Normally a mild heat illness. The pulse rate may be fast and weak, breathing fast and shallow.

    • Heavy sweating
    • Cold damp skin or hot dry skin
    • Paleness
    • Muscle cramps
    • Tiredness, weakness or dizziness
    • Headache, nausea or vomiting
    • Fainting

    Seek medical attention immediately if symptoms are severe, or if the person has heart problems or high blood pressure. Otherwise, help the person cool off and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour.

    Cooling measures may include rest in an air-conditioned or shaded space, reducing clothing, rest and cool, non-alcoholic beverages.

  • Heat Stroke

    Call 911 immediately if you suspect heat stroke. While waiting for help, get the person to a shady or air-conditioned area and cool them rapidly, Do NOT give them fluids to drink.

    • Extremely high body temperature (103 °F)
    • Red, hot, dry skin
    • No sweating
    • Strong, rapid pulse
    • Throbbing headache
    • Dizziness, nausea, confusion
    • Uncontrollable muscle twitching (in some cases)
    • Unconsciousness

    Cooling measures may include immersion in a cool tub of water or shower, spraying with a garden hose, sponging with cool water or wrapping loosely in a wet sheet and vigorously fanning. Continue cooling efforts until the body temperature lowers to 101-102 °F.

    If there is vomiting, keep the airway clear by turning the person on their side.

  • Heat Cramps

    • Muscle pains or spasms, usually in the abdomen, arms or legs
    • May be a symptom of heat exhaustion

    Heat cramps usually affect people who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. They can occur during or after strenuous activity in hot conditions.

    If symptoms are mild, stop all activity and sit quietly in a cool place. Drink clear juice or a sports beverage. Do not return to strenuous activity for a few hours after the cramps subside – further strain may cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

    Seek medical attention for cramps that do not subside after one hour.

  • Heat Rash

    • Rash that looks like a red cluster pimples or small blisters
    • Most likely on upper chest or neck, groin, breasts, creases of elbows

    Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather. It is most common among children. Heat rash is not dangerous.

    The best treatment is to provide a cooler, less humid environment. Keep the area dry. Avoid ointments or creams, as they keep the skin warm and moist and may worsen the rash.

  • Sunburn

    • Red, painful and abnormally warm skin
    • Blisters or peeling skin

    Though discomfort is usually minor and healing often occurs within a week, a severe sunburn may require medical attention.

    When treating sunburn, avoid sun exposure and do not break any blisters. Apply cold compresses or immerse the affected area in cool water. Apply moisturizing lotion to affected areas, but do not use salve, butter or ointment.

    Consult a doctor if an infant 1 year old or younger has fever, fluid-filled blisters or severe pain associated with a sunburn.