As we enter the summer months and start to get back to our typical summer activities like swimming, yard work, golf and more, we need to be cautious of heatstroke. HSHS St. John’s Hospital recommends taking the following measures to prevent heatstroke, which could cause serious complications or death:
- Wear loose fitting clothes – Loose fitting clothes allow for your body to cool properly as opposed to tight or heavy clothes.
- Drink plenty of fluids – Staying hydrated will help you maintain a normal body temperature and will help your body sweat.
- Protect yourself against sunburn – Use sunscreen, reapplying every two hours, as well as hats and sunglasses to protect against sunburns. Sit under the shade from time to time.
- Take it easy during the hottest parts of the day – Try to schedule outdoor activities in the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or the evening. The hottest part of the day is generally accepted as 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Heatstroke can require emergency treatment to prevent serious complications or death, especially for those who are most vulnerable such as infants and children, people 65 years of age and older, people who are overweight and people who are on certain medications. If you suspect someone is experiencing a heatstroke, call 911 or seek medical assistance immediately. Heatstroke signs and symptoms are:
- High body temperature – The main sign of heatstroke is a core body temperature of 104 degrees or higher.
- Altered mental state or behavior – If a person is confused, agitated, slurring their speech, irritable, delirious or experiences a seizure and they have been in a hot environment, suspect heatstroke.
- Nausea and vomiting – Vomiting may occur.
- Flushed skin – An increase in body temperature can lead to skin turning read.
- Rapid breathing – Breathing may become rapid and shallow.
- Racing heart rate – When a person experiences a heatstroke, the heart works overtime to help cool the body, therefore increasing the heartrate.
- Headache – Heatstroke can cause a throbbing headache.
If you suspect someone is experiencing heatstroke, call 911 or seek medical assistance immediately. For more tips for preventing heat-related illness, visit cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning.html.
Resources and more information on cooling centers in the area can be found at 211helps.org/cooling-sites or keepcool.illinois.gov. To ensure a site is operating during the time needed, the public is encouraged to call ahead of time. If there is not a cooling site near your residence, we recommend contacting your local health department for further assistance.