Heat cramps develop because of excessive perspiration and loss of salt from the body. Symptoms of Heat Cramps include muscle cramps, usually in the abdomen & legs, heavy perspiration, lightheadedness, weakness, and exhaustion. Gently rub the affected areas, and increase fluid intake.
Heat exhaustion is caused by the accumulation of blood in the skin in the body's attempt to increase its cooling efficiency. Usually this is due to temperature or conditions that the individual is not accustomed to. The resulting loss of circulating blood volume decreases oxygen supply to the brain and can cause fainting. Individuals suffering from heat exhaustion should be closely monitored to avoid escalation into heat stroke.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion can include nausea, dizziness, weakness, and headache. The skin is pale & moist, with possible heavy perspiration. Temperature may be low or normal with weak pulse, dilated pupils, disorientation or fainting spells.
First Aid for Heat Exhaustion:
Remove victim to cooler location, out of the sun. Loosen or remove clothing and cool victim with water, fanning for quick evaporation. Use cold compresses-especially to head & neck area, also to armpits and groin.
- Do NOT use an alcohol rub
- Do NOT give any medication to lower fever
Give victim electrolyte beverages to sip, or slightly salted water (1 tsp. per quart), 1/2 cup every 15 minutes
Do NOT give any liquids containing alcohol or caffeine as these may interfere with the body's ability to regulate its internal temperature. If the victim's condition does not improve or worsens seek medical attention immediately.
Heat stroke is caused by an inability to adequately dissipate body heat through perspiration, especially after strenuous physical activity. It is characterized by an excessive rise in body temperature, and a high fever that can cause permanent damage or death. Recovery depends on heat duration and intensity. The goal of emergency treatment is to maintain circulation and lower body temperature as quickly as possible.
Symptoms of Heatstroke include headache, nausea, dizziness, and hot, red, dry skin. The victim’s pulse may become strong & rapid, pupils may constrict, disorientation, unconsciousness and possible convulsions may occur.
First Aid for Heatstroke
Remember that HEATSROKE IS LIFE THREATENING!
Remove victim to a cooler location, out of the sun. Loosen or remove clothing and immerse victim in cool water. If immersion isn't possible, cool victim with water, or wrap in wet sheets and fan for quick evaporation. Use cold compresses, especially to the head & neck area, also to armpits and groin. Seek medical attention immediately—continue first aid to lower body temperature.
Do NOT give any medication to lower fever—it will not be effective and may cause further harm.
Do NOT use an alcohol rub
It is not advisable to give the victim anything by mouth (even water) until the condition has been stabilized.
Hypothermia and Frostbite
Generalized hypothermia results from heat loss, or a decrease in the body’s heat production. It is a potentially life-threatening condition.
- An individual in the first stage of hypothermia will respond by shivering. Shivering is a response by the body to generate heat. It does not occur below a body temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Stage 2 is characterized by apathy and decreased muscle function.
- With stage 3, the victim may show signs of decreased responsiveness, a glassy stare, and possible freezing of extremities.
- Stage 4 indicates decreased vital signs, including slow pulse and slow respiration.
- Stage 5 is death.
Treatment: The top priority is to remove the victim from the cold environment and to prevent further heat loss. Remove wet clothing, and wrap the victim in thick blankets. Heat packs may be placed on the chest, underarms, and groin. Reheat gradually, do not massage roughly or immerse in hot water.
Localized cold injury, or frostbite, results from the freezing of body tissue. It tends to occur on the hands, feet, ears, nose and cheeks, where ice crystals in the skin expand and block circulation. Frostbitten tissue may appear pale and waxy, or mottled and cyanotic. Other signs and symptoms may include loss of feeling, swelling, and blisters.
Treatment: Remove the victim from the cold environment. Never initiate thawing procedures if there is any danger of refreezing. Cover the affected area with dry dressings or clothing. Do not rub or massage the affected skin. Do not allow the victim to smoke, as this will further constrict the blood vessels. Contact EMS as quickly as possible.