Heat strokes are the most severe forms of heat injuries, making them a medical emergency. If you suspect you or someone you see is having a heat stroke, call 911 immediately and administer first aid until first responders arrive.
Heat strokes occur when someone is exposed to high temperatures and intense sun for long periods of time and cause the failure of the body’s cooling system. Essentially, your internal temperature reaches above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, causing complications in the nervous system.
Heat strokes can be deadly since they cause damage to the brain and many other organs. Those over 50 are at the highest risk, but it can happen to anyone. Heat strokes usually come after other sun-related illnesses occur, like heat cramps, fainting, and heat exhaustion, but can even occur suddenly and without warning. Other symptoms to note are nausea, headaches, confusion and disorientation, loss of consciousness, and sometimes seizures.
If you suspect someone is having a heat stroke, call 911 right away. In the meantime, you should administer first aid. Move the person, or yourself, to an air-conditioned building or area (if nothing is around, a cooler, shadier place), and remove unnecessary clothing. If you can, take their temperature and try to lower it to no higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit. You can cool them by fanning air after wetting skin with water, applying ice packs to the armpits, groin, neck, and back areas (which have many blood vessels close to the skin’s surface), or immersing them in cool water.
Do not use ice baths or ice for senior adults, younger children, those with chronic illness, or if the person’s heatstroke happened without exercise.
Knowing the signs of heatstroke may just save your life or someone else’s. For more questions about heatstroke, please contact your primary care services provider. For more information on NeighborMD’s MSO services, please visit us online.