Heat Illness: Tips to avoid, identify, and treat heat-related problems

Children are especially vulnerable to heat.

Children are especially vulnerable to heat.

Summer time is here in Arizona (in temperature, if not on the calendar!), and we at CPR2U want to send along some tips on ways to avoid heat-related emergencies, as well as how to identify and treat them if they do occur. While this is not an all-inclusive list, here are some things you can do to help prevent, recognize, and treat heat illness.

Avoiding heat illness

Stay indoors, preferably in a location with air conditioning if at all possible. If it is not possible to stay indoors, try to avoid being outside during the hottest parts of the day (usually, about 11 AM until about 4 PM). Limit the amount of time you spend outside, and stay hydrated! Water and sports drinks are preferred (make sure to follow your doctor’s advice if you are on a salt-restricted diet, or take certain medications for blood pressure), and avoid soda as well as beverages containing alcohol. Children and the elderly are especially susceptible to heat illnesses, so be sure to check up on your kids or older family members during these extremely hot days.

Identify and treat someone who may have a heat illness

An early sign of someone who is suffering from a heat-related illness is often muscle cramps. Later signs include vomiting, headache, dizziness, and heavy sweating; anyone showing these signs should be moved inside (again, preferably into a location with air conditioning!) and cooled off. Have them drink water or a sports drink if they are not vomiting.

A very late, and extremely dangerous sign of heat illness is confusion, or a person who is not acting like they normally do. This is a sign of heat stroke, and is absolutely a medical emergency. Bring them inside to cool off immediately and phone 9-1-1 (or the local emergency number, if it is different). Immerse them in water if possible, otherwise use wet towels to cool them off. Heat stroke can be fatal, so it is crucial to cool them off and get them to medical help right away!

Children, pets, and the elderly are especially vulnerable

Children have a high body surface area to body mass ratio, which means that they will overheat more quickly than adults. As people age, their bodies become less efficient at regulating their body temperature, and this leaves both children and older adults in a high-risk category for heat illness. Keep a close eye on children outside in extreme heat, and remind them to frequently rest, cool off, and drink water or sports drinks to stay hydrated. Check in on older adults frequently, and also remind them to rest and hydrate often. Never leave a child or pet inside a vehicle, not even “for a moment,” because they can quickly overheat.

Additional information on heat illnesses and tips to avoid them:

US CDC heat-related illnesses site

Arizona Department of Health Services “Surviving Arizona Summer Heat” Brochure

CPR2U would like to wish everyone a happy and safe summer!

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