Heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year.
Everyone can be vulnerable to heat, but some more so than others. It is important to learn the high risk group so you can recognize if you, a family member or friend falls into to one of the following categories:
- Young children and infants are particularly vulnerable to heat-related illness and death, as their bodies are less able to adapt to heat than are adults.
- Older adults, particularly those with pre existing diseases, take certain medications, are living alone or with limited mobility who are exposed to extreme heat can experience multiple adverse effects.
- People with chronic medical conditions are more likely to have a serious health problem during a heat wave than healthy people.
- Pregnant women are also at higher risk. Extreme heat events have been associated with adverse birth outcomes such as low birth weight, preterm birth, and infant mortality, as well as congenital cataracts.
Heat Cramps, Exhaustion, Stroke
Heat cramps may be the first sign of heat-related illness, and may lead to heat exhaustion or stroke.
- Symptoms: Painful muscle cramps and spasms usually in legs and abdomen and Heavy sweating.
- First Aid: Apply firm pressure on cramping muscles or gently massage to relieve spasm. Give sips of water unless the person complains of nausea, then stop giving water.
Seek immediate medical attention if cramps last longer than 1 hour.
- Symptoms: Heavy sweating, Weakness or tiredness, cool, pale, clammy skin; fast, weak pulse, muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, headache, fainting,
- First Aid: Move person to a cooler environment, preferably a well air conditioned room. Loosen clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths or have person sit in a cool bath. Offer sips of water. If person vomits more than once,
Seek immediate medical attention if the person vomits, symptoms worsen or last longer than 1 hour
- Symptoms: Throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, body temperature above 103°F, hot, red, dry or damp skin, rapid and strong pulse, fainting, loss of consciousness.
- First Aid: Call 911 or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Delay can be fatal. Move the victim to a cooler, preferably air-conditioned, environment. Reduce body temperature with cool cloths or bath. Use fan if heat index temperatures are below the high 90s. A fan can make you hotter at higher temperatures. Do NOT give fluids.