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Posted by on Jul 7, 2015 in Environmental Scenarios | 0 comments

What are Heat Emergencies?

Heat emergencies pertain to a three-part spectrum of heat-related illnesses. In increasing severity or intensity, these are: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These heat emergencies occur as a result of exposure to extreme heat or hot weather for a long period of time. Apart from this, dehydration, excessive exercise, sweat gland problems, wearing too much or too thick clothing and heart disease may also lead to heat emergencies.

These heat-related illnesses can occur to anyone but the children, elderly and obese individuals are at greatest risks for experiencing any of the heat emergencies. Moreover, taking certain medications and drinking alcohol can also put an individual at greater risk for developing heat-related illnesses.

Heat emergencies pertain to a three-part spectrum of heat-related illnesses

Heat emergencies pertain to a three-part spectrum of heat-related illnesses

Heat Emergencies: Heat Cramps

The first in the spectrum of heat emergencies, which is also considered the mildest, is heat cramps. Although it is the least dangerous among the three, it is still considered serious and must be treated immediately to avoid the progression in the spectrum.

  • Cause: Typically caused by being physically active in the hot weather
  • Signs and Symptoms: pain and tightening of the muscles
  • First Aid
    • Remove the individual from the direct heat of the sun and transfer the individual to a cooler area. If this is not possible, move the individual to a shaded area.
    • Gently massage the muscle that is cramping.
    • Assist the individual into smoothly stretching the muscle.
    • Give the individual cool clear fluids, such as water or sports drink every 15 minutes.

Heat Emergencies: Heat Exhaustion

If heat cramps is not treated properly, it can progress to heat exhaustion.

  • Cause: Typically caused by dehydration
  • Signs and Symptoms: heavy sweating, muscle cramps, pale skin, extreme thirst, nausea and vomiting, headache, dizziness, irritability and fainting
  • First Aid
    • Remove the individual from the direct heat of the sun and transfer the individual to a cooler area. If this is not possible, move the individual to a shaded area.
    • Loosen any tight clothing.
    • Place cool, wet towels on the neck, face, chest and limbs.
    • Fan the individual’s skin to help it cool.
    • Give the individual cool clear fluids, such as water or sports drink every 15 minutes.

Heat Emergencies: Heatstroke

The most dangerous and most serious among the heat emergencies is the life-threatening heatstroke. It is considered a medical emergency. When an individual begins to show signs and symptoms of heatstroke, call for emergency medical services immediately.

  • Cause: Typically caused by being physically active in the hot weather
  • Signs and Symptoms: All symptoms of heat exhaustion except for sweating (absence of sweating in heatstroke)
    • Over 40°C body temperature
    • Rapid and shallow breathing
    • Rapid and weak pulse
    • Seizure
    • Confusion
    • Irrational behaviour
    • Loss of consciousness
  • First Aid
    • Remove the individual from the direct heat of the sun and transfer the individual to a cooler area. If this is not possible, move the individual to a shaded area.
    • Loose any tight clothing. Remove and clothing that is drenched in sweat.
    • Place cool, wet towels on the neck, face, chest and limbs. If there is ice, wrap the ice in a towel or any piece of clothing and apply on the underarms, wrists and groin area.
    • Fan the individual’s skin to help it cool.
    • If the individual is conscious, give the individual cool clear fluids, such as water or sports drink every 15 minutes.
    • Initiate CPR if needed.

To learn how to give appropriate first aid treatment for the different heat emergencies, enroll in first aid courses.

Heat emergencies refer to a three-part spectrum of heat-related illnesses and occur in increasing severity: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

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