Avoiding Heat Strokes | Shelter Insurance®

How to Avoid Heat Strokes

Image: Woman outside overheating

Heat stroke is a form of illness that occurs when your body is severely overheated. It is considered a medical emergency because of its serious consequences and must be treated promptly.

The Signs
Because a heat stroke causes swelling in the body that can result in potentially permanent damage to your organs, including the brain, prompt treatment is crucial. To do this, you must be able to identify it quickly. Look for these main signs:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Excessive or lack of sweating
  • Mental confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Body temperature greater than 104 degrees F

Prevention
Sweating is normally effective enough for regulating your body temperature, but under a combination of certain conditions, your body becomes incapable of carrying out this essential task. Hot days with higher levels of humidity in the air will keep your sweat from evaporating and won't do the job to cool you down sufficiently. Add prolonged exposure to extreme heat with strenuous physical activities and you've set the stage for a heat stroke. It's best to avoid these conditions, but if you can't, here are three steps you can take to help prevent a heat stroke. 

  1. Wear Sun Protection. Sunburn will only make everything worse. Make sure to have on sunscreen and sun-blocking clothing, such as a hat, if necessary.
  2. Wear Loose Clothing. You need some coverage, but you also want to make sure that your clothes are not making it difficult for sweat to evaporate. Try not to wear clothes that are too tight.
  3. Stay Hydrated. Prevent dehydration by drinking extra fluids. This will help you replenish the bodily fluids lost from sweater and help cool your body. It's important to do this even if you don't feel thirsty.        

Children in Vehicles
39 children in the United States died from vehicular heat strokes in 2016. A child's body is less efficient at regulating body temperature than an adult's body, and a child's body heats up to five times faster than that of an adult. In addition, a car can become an additional 20 degrees hotter after 10 minutes in the sun. The combination of these things means that a child left in a hot car can have a fatal heat stroke. Look Before You Lock to get in the habit of checking for your child in the back seat before you leave your vehicle this summer. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. If the child seems hot or sick, get the child out of the car immediately. 

Treatment
The main focus of heat stroke treatments is to cool down your body to its regular temperature. You can take a cold bath, mist water on your skin while fanning, or use ice packs and cooling blankets to do this. While there are ways to temporarily mitigate the symptoms, a person suffering from a serious heat stroke should be taken to the hospital.

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