Heatwaves and hot weather can kill. Learn about the signs, symptoms and treatment of heatstroke and heat exhaustion so you can help yourself and others when the temperature soars.
What is heat exhaustion?
Heat exhaustion happens when someone becomes dehydrated due to fluid loss from a hot environment and/or excessive physical activity
Heat exhaustion signs and symptoms
- Body temperature more than 40 degrees Celsius
- Muscle cramps
- Exhaustion and general weakness.
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Dizzy spells
- Pale, cool, clammy skin at first, becoming flushed and red later
- A rapid, weak pulse.
Heat exhaustion treatment
- Help the person to lie down at total rest in a cool or shady area to monitor
- Remove excessive clothing and loosen any tight clothing
- Cool by fanning and moisten skin if possible
- If fully alert and responsive, give them frequent small drinks of water
- If muscle cramps occur, gently stretch the affected muscles to ease pain
- If unresponsive, place in the recovery position.
- If the person is unable to drink vomiting, unresponsive ,or does not improve call 000 for an ambulance
- Prepare to give CPR if necessary
What is heat stroke?
Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency and can cause a person to collapse or fall unconscious Heat stroke is more serious and means the body is no longer able to regulate its temperature by cooling the skin’s surface by sweating. The internal body temperature rises, and organ damage can occur.
Heat stroke signs and symptoms
- Typically no longer sweating.
- Red, hot and dry skin.
- A body temperature more than 40°C.
- A rapid, strong pulse.
- Rapid, noisy breathing.
- Irrational or aggressive behaviour.
- Deterioration of the conscious state.
Heat stroke treatment
- Call 000 for an ambulance immediately
- Cool the person using wet towels or a wet sheet with a fan directed across the surface.
- If ice packs are available, wrap them in towels and place them around the neck / groin / armpits .
- If shivering occurs reduce active cooling.
- Monitor the person continually
- If unresponsive or not alert , place in the recovery position.
- Prepare to give CPR if necessary.
For more information, download the Red Cross First Aid App
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