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Staying Safe in the Summer Heat

The Summer of 2012 is on track to be one of the hottest summers on record. As the temperature soars, it's important to take precautions to avoid serious, even life threatening, effects of the summer heat.

Two common problems caused by extreme heat are Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke. According to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there were 206 heat related deaths in 2011 and that number is getting higher each year. Keeping an eye out for the warning signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion can save lives during these hot summer months.

Heat Exhaustion vs. Heat Stroke: What's the Difference?


Heat Exhaustion usually occurs due to someone getting overheated while exercising or performing other strenuous activites in hot or humid weather. When the body's core temperature rises between the normal range of 98.6 degrees and 104 degrees, that is heat exhaustion. The most common reasons for heat exhaustion are dehydration and the body's cooling system not working efficiently enough. If heat exhaustion is not treated quickly, it can quickly progress into heat stroke.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

  • Muscles cramping
  • Profuse sweating
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting

Treatment of Heat Exhaustion

  • Rehydration
  • Move into the air conditioning or shade
  • Rest

Heat Stroke is a rapidly developing, serious condition that requires immediate attention. Heat stroke occurs when the body's core temperature goes above 104 degrees. If heat stroke is left untreated, it can lead to organ failure or even death.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

  • Profuse sweating, followed by a lack of sweat forming on the skin
  • Hallucinations, or other abnormal mental status
  • Hyperventilation
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Seizure and/or coma

Treatment of Heat Stroke

  • Call 911. Heat Stroke is a true medical emergency. Note: Do not rely on the individual to recognize any of the symptoms!
  • Cool the victim. Apply cool water to the skin, fan them, or place ice under their armpits and groin area. Instant Cold Packs are a great item to have on hand in your first aid kit.
  • Offer liquid (if they are able to drink), cool liquids that are alcohol and caffeine free are best
  • Closely monitor body temperature, continue to use cooling methods until the body temperature drops to below 101 degrees

Some important things to remember are; stay well hydrated, take frequent breaks, and keep an eye out for anyone who shows signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. It's always a good idea to listen to your body and avoid serious problems so everyone can have a fun and safe summer.

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