Temperatures soared in Pasadena during the past week and have settled into a hot, humid bake. Healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente, with Southern California headquarters in Pasadena, has issued practical tips for staying active in the heat while at the same time keeping yourself safe from heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
“Temperatures are heating up and your body may be unable to properly cool itself, which could lead to a heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Know the signs and symptoms,” Kaiser Permanente said in an advisory on coping with the hot weather.
The advisory said heat exhaustion occurs “when you are hot, sweat a lot, and do not drink enough to replace the lost fluids.”
“Heat exhaustion is not the same as heatstroke, which is much more serious,” it continued. “Heatstroke can lead to problems with many different organs and can be life-threatening.”
Signs of a rapidly progressing heatstroke could include unconsciousness for longer than a few seconds, convulsion, severe difficulty in breathing, a rectal temperature of over 104 degrees, confusion, severe restlessness or anxiety, a fast heart rate, reddish dry skin even in the armpits, and severe vomiting and diarrhea.
A person in a heatstroke can either be sweating heavily or not sweat at all while feeling very hot, Kaiser Permanente said.
Dr. Angeline Ong-Su, from Kaiser Permanente’s Panorama City Medical Center, said heatstroke can occur when the body reaches a temperature higher than 104 degrees.
Anyone seeing symptoms of heatstroke in a family member or any other person should call 9-1-1 and should prepare to administer first aid, according to Kaiser Permanente’s online Health and Wellness page. The page also lists first aid steps in responding to heatstroke:
• Move the person into a cool place, out of direct sunlight.
• Remove the person’s unnecessary clothing, and place the person on his or her side to expose as much skin surface to the air as possible.
• Cool the person’s entire body by sponging or spraying cold water, and fan the person to help lower the person’s body temperature.
• Apply ice packs over as much of the body as you can.
• Check the person’s rectal temperature and try to reduce it to 102°F or lower as soon as possible. Temperatures taken by mouth or in the ear are not accurate in this emergency situation.
• If a child has stopped breathing, begin rescue breathing or CPR.
• Do not give aspirin or acetaminophen to reduce a high body temperature that can occur with heatstroke. These medicines may cause problems because of the body’s response to heatstroke.
• If the person is awake and alert enough to swallow, give the person fluids (32 fluid ounces to 64 fluid ounces over one to two hours) for hydration. Make sure the person is sitting up enough so that he or she does not choke.
Kaiser Permanente said person suffering from heat exhaustion would usually experience a throbbing headache, vision changes, extreme nausea and vomiting and excessive sweating, or may be confused or altogether lose consciousness. The person could also experience muscle cramps and abdominal pains, and feel extremely tired.
A person experiencing such symptoms should be moved indoors or to a shaded area, immersed in a cold- or ice-water tub, or sprayed with cool water and fanned.
Other tips to respond to heat exhaustion include giving the person cool fluids, applying wet towels or ice packs to the neck, forehead and underarms, removing some of the clothing, and moving them to a cooled-off room where they can rest.
For more tips and information about heat stroke and heat exhaustion, visit here.