Preventing Heatstroke: Tips And Strategies

Preventing Heatstroke Tips And StrategiesAs summer arrives, our body’s cooling system faces a stern test. Even though sweating helps to cool us down, the soaring temperature can overwhelm our cooling system and lead to heatstroke. Failing to hydrate or cool ourselves down regularly can cause our body temperature to rise to dangerous levels, resulting in a medical emergency. If left untreated, heatstroke can lead to organ failure, posing a significant risk of complications or even death.

Fortunately, the vast majority of heat-related deaths are preventable. It is crucial, especially for seniors, small children, construction workers, and athletes, to stay cool and avoid heat-related illnesses. By taking necessary precautions, such as staying hydrated and avoiding strenuous outdoor activities during peak hours, we can save an average of 702 lives per year.

Air-Conditioning Is Key

Air conditioning is considered the most effective way to prevent heat-related illnesses, including heatstroke. People who are at a higher risk of such illnesses include older adults over the age of 65, socially isolated individuals, overweight individuals, and those with preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. However, heat-related illnesses can affect anyone, including young and healthy individuals.

To mitigate the risk of heat-related illnesses, it is essential to equip all buildings and man-made environments with adequate cooling systems. According to experts, the ideal temperature for seniors is between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

By maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature, individuals can prevent heat-related illnesses and protect their health, particularly during hot weather conditions.

Hydrate Frequently

Drink plenty of water—a cup (8 ounces) of water every hour during non-strenuous activity or a cup every 15 to 20 minutes during strenuous activity—especially on hot days.4

Our bodies produce a tremendous amount of heat and sweating is an important mechanism to keep us cool. Frequent hydration helps us to avoid dehydration and bolsters our ability to sweat and radiate heat through our skin, keeping our body temperature from reaching dangerously high levels.

 Symptoms of Dehydration

Dehydration can be mild and may not cause any symptoms at first. As it worsens, one may experience various symptoms and signs, such as

  • feeling thirsty,
  • dry mouth and nose,
  • cracked lips,
  • fatigue,
  • muscle weakness or pain,
  • wrinkled skin,
  • headache,
  • dizziness,
  • lightheadedness,
  • weakness,
  • dark urine with a strong odor, increased heart rate and breathing, and confusion.

Untreated and in extreme cases, dehydration can cause severe health issues, such as kidney failure, seizures, heat exhaustion, stroke, and even death.

It’s crucial to be aware that children, due to their smaller bodies and inability to communicate their needs effectively, and the elderly are more prone to dehydration. Some notable symptoms of dehydration in these groups include a lack of tears when crying, no wet diapers for four hours or more, sunken abdomen, eyes, cheeks, or fontanel (the gap between the bones of an infant’s skull), high fever, listlessness, irritability, and poor skin elasticity, which is a particular symptom of dehydration that may be pronounced in the elderly.

It’s vital to recognize the symptoms of dehydration and seek prompt medical attention to avoid severe complications.

Limit Strenuous Activity

Heatstroke comes in two forms: classic and exertional. Classic heatstroke is common in elderly individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, while exertional heatstroke typically affects healthy individuals engaging in strenuous exercise in hot and humid weather.

To prevent heat stroke while working outdoors or participating in strenuous activities, it is crucial to take frequent breaks and mist oneself with a spray bottle. Moreover, it is advisable to avoid performing rigorous work during the hottest part of the day, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., especially on hot and humid days.

By taking these precautions, individuals can reduce their risk of heatstroke and stay safe while working or participating in activities in hot weather conditions.

Protect Against Sunburn

Sunburn can impair the skin’s ability to regulate body temperature, making individuals more susceptible to heat-related illness. To avoid sunburn, it is crucial to apply a generous amount of broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least 15 sun protection factors (SPF) regularly.

It is recommended to reapply sunscreen every two hours, and more frequently when swimming or sweating, as per current guidelines. Additionally, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and carrying an umbrella, especially on the beach, can provide additional protection from harmful UV rays.

By taking these measures, individuals can minimize their risk of sunburn and protect themselves from heat-related illness.

Find Some Shade

Urban cities have a unique characteristic known as the urban heat island effect, which causes temperatures to rise faster than in rural areas. The extensive use of materials like concrete and asphalt in buildings contributes to this effect, even in the absence of a heatwave.

To reduce the risk of heat-related illness, it is crucial to spend time outside in the shade or in public facilities with air conditioning. By taking breaks in the shade or spending time in air-conditioned areas, individuals can regulate their body temperature and prevent heat-related injury.

Prepare for Warm Weather

To prevent heat-related injury, it is essential to wear loose clothing and sun-protective gear, such as sunglasses. Additionally, gradually acclimating to warm temperatures, monitoring the temperature throughout the day, and reducing the consumption of alcoholic and caffeinated beverages are critical habits to adopt.

By wearing loose clothing, the body can regulate temperature more efficiently, and sun-protective gear can prevent harmful UV rays from damaging the eyes and skin. Gradually exposing oneself to warm temperatures allows the body to adapt to the heat and prevent heat-related illness.

It is also important to monitor the temperature throughout the day, especially during hot weather conditions. Limiting the intake of alcoholic and caffeinated beverages can help prevent dehydration and reduce the risk of heat-related illness.

Check on Infants and Loved Ones

It is crucial never to leave a child or pet unattended in a parked or closed car, even if the windows are slightly open, on a warm day. The temperature inside a parked car can increase up to 20 degrees F (6.7 degrees C) in just ten minutes, which can cause heat-related injury or death.

Tragically, on average, 39 children under the age of 15 die every year from heat stroke after being left in a vehicle. This is the most common form of heat-related injury and death in children.

During heat waves, it is essential to check on individuals at risk of heat-related injury, including the elderly, disabled, and those who are homebound. Parents and caregivers of the elderly should ensure that assisted living facilities, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and private homes have adequate cooling systems.

Symptoms of heatstroke can vary significantly among individuals and may resemble other medical conditions. Frequent check-ins can increase the caregiver’s chances of detecting subtle changes in a person’s condition, which can help in identifying heat-related injury early.

Be Cautious If You’re at Higher Risk

Certain medical conditions, such as obesity, hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes, can elevate the risk of heat-related illness. Moreover, some medications that are typically prescribed to manage these chronic conditions can impair the body’s ability to regulate temperature or hinder perspiration. Therefore, individuals who are taking medication regularly should consult with their doctor to determine if they are taking any medication that might heighten their risk of heat-related injury.

When to Get Emergency Help

If you think someone is experiencing heat stroke call 911 or your local emergency services. 

First Aid for Signs of Heat Illness

Heatstroke can have severe consequences, including permanent damage or even death. Therefore, it is crucial to take prompt and decisive action to save lives. If you suspect that someone may be suffering from heat-related injury, you should:

  1. Call for medical assistance immediately.
  2. Move the affected person out of the heat and into a cool environment.
  3. Remove any tight or heavy clothing to help the individual cool down.
  4. Apply cold water to the person’s skin or fan them to stimulate sweating.
  5. Place ice packs under the armpits and groin of the individual to initiate rapid cooling.
  6. Have the person lie down on their back with their feet slightly elevated.
  7. Offer cool water or a non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverage for the individual to drink.
  8. Take the person’s temperature with a thermometer if possible and closely monitor their condition.

References & Sources

TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles.

  1. Davis RE, Knappenberger PC, Novicoff WM, Michaels PJ. Decadal changes in heat-related human mortality in the eastern United StatesClim Res. 22(2):175–84. doi:10.3354/cr022175
  2. National Institute on Aging. Cold weather safety for older adults.
  3. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Heat-related illnesses (heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke).
  4. National Safety Council. Hot car deaths.
  5. Wexler RK. Evaluation and treatment of heat-related illnessesAm Fam Physician. 65(11):2307-2314.
  6. American Academy of Dermatology. Sunscreen FAQs
  7. Vaidyanathan A, Malilay J, Schramm P, Saha S. Heat-related deaths — United States, 2004–2018MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 69:729–734. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6924a1
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tips for preventing heat-related illness.
Disclaimer

The blogs presented by TGH Urgent Care in partnership with Fast Track are not a replacement for medical care and are exclusively intended for educational purposes. The content provided here should not be construed as medical guidance. If you are encountering any symptoms, we strongly recommend that you seek an appointment with a duly qualified medical practitioner at our nearest facility.

Employer Solutions

Our goal is to provide exceptional patient care with a strong return-to-work philosophy. We can help you control your healthcare costs by reducing emergency room visits. We are here to give you and your employees a convenient, quality-focused choice for all your occupational health and work injury management needs.

JOIN OUR TEAM

Available Positions

  • X-Ray Tech
  • MA
  • LPN
  • NP/PA
  • Medical Receptionist
  • Admin Support and more!

Announcement

Commitment to Responsible Prescribing Practices

We are committed to responsible antibiotic prescribing practices. Our goal is to adequately treat infections while protecting our community from the harmful effects of antibiotic resistant infections. TGH Urgent Care has earned the Antibiotic Stewardship Commendation Award from the Urgent Care Association due to our ongoing commitment to this goal.

Fast, quick, responsive, professional and courteous.

Melanie G.
See more reviews from others like Melanie G.

You dealt with my issue promptly and efficiently and i was on my way.

Stephen S.
See more reviews from others like Stephen S.

By far the nicest urgent care I've had the unfortunate opportunity to experience. The cleanliness and friendliness of this clinic are unmatched. - Sara S.

Sara S.
See more reviews from others like Sara S.

The entire staff was so friendly & helpful. Our first visit here was quick, the office was very clean & they were great with my kids. We will be back for sure!

Sandra P.
See more reviews from others like Sandra P.

The staff was wonderful, very caring and truly cared about how I was.

Brandy P.
See more reviews from others like Brandy P.

The wait was minimum and the PA was very understanding. The staff at the front desk could be a bit more friendly. Other than that, good overall experience.

Alexander C.
See more reviews from others like Alexander C.

CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN and very friendly!!!

Rosaria F.
See more reviews from others like Rosaria F.

See more reviews from others like Rosaria F. See more reviews
Now Hiring for Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough Counties
This is default text for notification bar