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Heat Stroke 101: Stay Safe This Summer

A Man Wipes the Sweat From His Forehead on a Hot Summer Day

Summer can mean more fun and precious time spent with family. The grandkids are out of school, the sunshine is calling, and naturally, you all want to spend more time together at the beach or pool. But while being outside can energize the body, mind and spirit, it can also lead to health emergencies if you’re not careful.

Blue skies and sunshine bring more heat and humidity. The summer sun can be intense, and with too much exposure, it can even cause a dangerous condition called a heat stroke. Learn what heat stroke is, how to recognize the symptoms and when you need to seek medical care.

What is Heat Stroke?

Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that happens when your core body temperature rises to 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and is no longer able to cool itself.

How Do You Get Heat Stroke?

Being outdoors makes you vulnerable to the elements, especially the heat caused by the summer sun. But it’s important to keep in mind that heat stroke can also happen while you’re inside. If your home isn’t air conditioned, you can still be vulnerable to the heat.

In times of extreme heat, you should also be careful about physical activities. Strenuous exercise — whether indoors or out — during times of extreme heat can also make you vulnerable.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke?

Knowing how to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stroke can help you save a life. They include:

  • Coma (unconsciousness lasting a long time)
  • Confusion or hallucinations
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Elevated body temperature (104 degrees F or higher)
  • Fainting (unconsciousness lasting a short time)
  • Fast, strong, pounding pulse
  • Headache
  • Hot, red, dry or clammy skin
  • Nausea
  • Not sweating
  • Slurred speech

Ways to Avoid Heat Stroke

Arm yourself with knowledge and be proactive. When your area is experiencing extreme temperatures, follow these tips to avoid heat stroke:

  • Check on loved ones and friends at risk for heat-related illnesses, especially seniors and those with health-related conditions
  • Drink lots of fluids (especially water)
  • Plan activities in air-conditioned areas to stay cool
  • Take breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas when outdoors to allow your body to cool off
  • Wear a hat and lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing

Be Prepared

Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Knowing how to avoid heat stroke can help protect you and your loved ones.

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