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First Aid: Heat Exposure

Man lying on ground on back. First aid giver has removed man's shirt, supported man's head with rolled-up cloth, and raised man's legs on box. First aid giver is holding cool cloth to man's chest. Man drinking water from glass and holding jug of water in other hand. The brain carries a temperature regulator that keeps the body near a healthy 98°F. But prolonged exposure to extreme heat may overwhelm this natural thermostat.

Intense heat may cause excessive fluid loss through sweating (heat exhaustion). If the body isn’t cooled, sweating eventually stops, but the body’s temperature may keep rising until vital organs begin to fail (heat stroke).

 

1. Lower Body Temperature

  • Move the victim into shade and sponge with cool water. Cool head, neck, groin, and underarms.

  •   Place the victim on his or her back. Elevate feet about 12 inches to lessen the risk of shock.

  • Monitor the victim every 15 minutes—continue to cool as needed.

 2. Give Cool Liquids

  • Provide the victim with clear liquids if he or she is alert. Offer cool or room-temperature

    water. A bottled sports drink is another good choice.

  • DON’T offer drinks containing milk, which may cause nausea.

Seek medical help if any of the following is true:

  • The victim is sweating heavily, but the skin feels cool and clammy.

  • The victim feels dizzy, lightheaded, or weak.

Call 911 immediately if the victim has any of the following:

  • Skin that feels hot and dry to the touch

  • Drowsiness, disorientation, or loss of consciousness

  • Loss of muscle control

While you wait for help:

  • Reassure the person.

  • Keep the person as col as possible.

  • Treat for shock or provide rescue breathing or CPR, if needed.

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Buzon, Rey C
Date Last Reviewed: 5/9/2011
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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