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How to Prevent Heat-Related Illnesses

Do you know the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke? Both typically occur from prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. However, if you don't treat heat exhaustion, it can lead to heat stroke which may cause shock, organ failure, or brain damage.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion typically causes issues like heavy sweating, dizziness, muscle cramps, low blood pressure when standing, faintness, nausea, and cool, moist skin with goosebumps. In order to reverse heat exhaustion, stop all activity and move to a cool area preferably with air conditioning. Relax and drink cool water or sports drinks. You can also take a cool shower, soak in a cool bath or place cool, wet towels on your skin. If symptoms are not better within an hour, contact your doctor.

Heat Stroke

If you do not treat heat exhaustion, it can lead to heat stroke. These symptoms include a throbbing headache, red skin with no sweat, tremors, and a rapid, strong pulse. The most accurate way to know if you are experiencing a heat stroke is for your core temperature to be 104 degrees or higher. It is important to call 9-1-1 immediately if you think you're experiencing a heat stroke. Not treating a heat stroke can lead to shock, organ failure or brain damage.


To help prevent heat-related illnesses, stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, If you don't have air conditioning, visit a library, movie theater or mall. However, if you must be outside, wear light colored, airy clothing instead of dark, thick or tight apparel. Remember to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water before, during and after being in the heat. Also, avoid alcohol while in the heat.

Lastly, NEVER leave a child or pet behind in a vehicle. Without air circulation, the heat will become unbearable and the child or pet will become severely injured or die from heat stroke.

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