As the weather gets warmer, DHEC warns you to take precautions to avoid heatstroke.
While going about your daily activities — whether exercising or simply traveling to the grocery store to shop — be sure to protect yourself and others from possible heatstroke. It’s not safe to leave a person in a parked car in warm or hot weather, even if the windows are cracked or the car is in shade. It is important to note that children’s body temperatures warm at a rate three to five times faster than an adult’s.
Heatstroke requires emergency treatment
Untreated heatstroke can cause damage to your body, especially your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage gets worse the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.
If you think a person may be experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help. Call 911 or your local emergency services number. Take steps cool the overheated person while waiting for emergency treatment.
- Get the person into shade or indoors.
- Remove excess clothing.
- Cool the person with whatever means available — put them in a cool tub of water or a cool shower, spray them with a garden hose, sponge them with cool water, fan them while misting them with cool water, or place ice packs or cold, wet towels on their head, neck, armpits and groin.
Heatstroke symptoms include:
- High body temperature: 104 F (40 C) or higher is the main sign of heatstroke.
- Altered mental state or behavior: Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, etc.
- Alteration in sweating: Heatstroke brought on by hot weather can cause skin to feel hot and dry to the touch. Heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise causes skin may feel moist.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Flushed skin.
- Rapid breathing.
- Racing heart rate.
Heatstroke is predictable and preventable
Take these steps to prevent heatstroke:
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing.
- Protect against sunburn: Protect yourself outdoors with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Take extra precautions with certain medications. Be on the lookout for heat-related problems if you take medications that can affect your body’s ability to stay hydrated.
- Never leave anyone in a parked car. This is a common cause of heat-related deaths in children. When parked in the sun, the temperature in your car can rise 20 degrees F (more than 6.7 C) in 10 minutes.
- Take it easy during the hottest parts of the day.
- Get acclimated. Limit the amount of time spent working or exercising in heat until you’re conditioned to it. It can take several weeks for your body to adjust.
- Be cautious if you’re at increased risk. If you take medications or have a condition that increases your risk of heat-related problems, avoid the heat and act quickly if you notice symptoms of overheating. If you participate in a strenuous sporting event or activity in hot weather, make sure there are medical services available in case of a heat emergency.