Know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke from the American Red Cross:
Heat exhaustion: Cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal.
Heat stroke: Hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high– as high as 105 degrees F. If the person was sweating from heavy work or exercise, skin may be wet; otherwise, it will feel dry.
For heat exhaustion:
- Move the person to a cool place.
- Have the person remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, moistened washcloths to the forehead, wrists, chest, and other areas of the body to help cool them down.
- If the person is alert and conscious, have them drink a few ounces of cool fluid (water preferred) every 15 minutes. This is important, even if the person doesn’t feel thirsty.
- Monitor their condition as they begin to feel more comfortable. If the symptoms do not subside after an hour, seek medical care or advice from a qualified health professional. If the victim has any history of chronic illness such as heart or lung problems, they should see their doctor right away.
Heat stroke is an entirely different matter and must be treated as a life-threatening emergency.
- Get help by calling 9-1-1 immediately
- In the meantime, get the affected person as cool as possible. Immerse the victim in cool (not ice) water or wrap them in saturated fabric and continue to apply cool liquid. Provide for as much air movement as possible to speed cooling. A cool shower is also helpful if the victim can stand
- Similar to heat exhaustion, have the person drink cool liquids only if they are alert and fully conscious. If the person looses consciousness, vomits, or has other difficulties drinking, never force liquids
- Monitor this as you would in any urgent first aid situation making sure the victim is breathing properly, comfortable, etc. (ABC’s of first aid.)
Source: University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension