Summer sun brings risk of heat exhaustion, heat stroke

Summer sun brings risk of heat exhaustion, heat stroke

EUGENE, Ore. - Summer is here, and with the sun shining bright, it's hard not to want to take advantage of it.

But anyone can feel the strength of the heat, not just those working out in it.

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Heat exhaustion primarily happens through dehydration and salt depletion, causing you to feel dizzy or weak.

Heat strokes occur when your body temperature reaches greater than 105 degrees.

This type of heat injury can leave long term effects such as brain and internal organ damage.

"You can go into kidney failure, you're so severely dehydrated. You can have a heart attack easier because you're working harder," said Dr. Geoffrey Simmons.

Doctors say if you're starting to feel dizzy or confused, find some shade and get some water.

Simmons said the focus is to cool the body down.

If you think you're having a heat stroke, immediately call 911 and lie down in a cool area.

"If you have ice packs, put it under their armpits or their groin, try keeping cool and fan them, until help comes," Simmons said.

Extreme heat is the most common cause of weather-related deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, killing more people on average each year than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined.

Forecasters encourage the elderly and others susceptible to heat illness to watch weather forecasts as temperatures heat up this week and weekend 

Symptoms of Heat-Induced Ailments

• Dehydration – thirst, less frequent urination

• Prickly heat bumps - irritating skin rash

• Cramps - painful muscle contractions

• Edema – swelling of hands and feet

• Exhaustion / Fatigue – characterized by clammy skin, paleness, dizziness, nausea, fever, and headache


Symptoms of Heat Stroke

Seek immediate medical help if you or someone else develops the following symptoms. Heat Stroke is the most severe heat illness and is a life-threatening situation.

• Lethargy, sluggishness

• Rapid heart rate and breathing

• Confusion, disorientation, agitation, irritability

• High body temperature

• Intense muscle aches, fever, diarrhea or nausea

• Convulsing, fainting, seizure, loss of consciousness



Caring for a Heat Stroke Victim Until Help Arrives

While you are waiting for help to arrive you can assist the person by doing the following:

• Get the person out of the heat to a cooler environment. Take them indoors if possible.

• Fan the person with a newspaper or towel to cool the body.

• Loosen or remove clothing and sprinkle the skin lightly with water.

• Elevate feet to direct blood flow back toward the head.

• If available, apply icepacks to the groin area or armpits.


Risk of Heat Related Illness

Some people are at greater risk than others to suffer heat-related illness:

• Infants and young children

• People aged 65 and older

• Those persons who are physically ill, or have heart disease or high blood pressure

• Those persons who must work in / wear protective equipment: helmets, respirators, heavy clothing

How to Beat the Heat – The Do's and Don'ts:


• Use air conditioners or spend time in air-conditioned locations such as malls and libraries

• Use portable electric fans to exhaust hot air from rooms or draw in cooler air

• Take a cool bath or shower

• Minimize direct exposure to the sun

• Stay hydrated – regularly drink water or other nonalcoholic fluids

• Eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods such as fruit or salads

• Wear loose fitting, light-colored clothes

• Check on older, sick, or frail people who may need help responding to the heat

• Limit exercise to moderate activity and rest whenever necessary

• Exercise during cooler periods of the day such as the early morning or late evening hours

• Consult your health care provider or pharmacist to see which medicines are affected by excessive heat conditions

• Know the symptoms of excessive heat exposure and the appropriate responses.


• Direct the flow of portable electric fans toward yourself when room temperature is hotter than 90°f

• Leave children, the elderly or pets alone in cars for any amount of time

• Drink alcohol, or drinks that contain caffeine or large amounts of sugar to try to stay cool

• Eat heavy, hot, or hard-to-digest foods

• Wear heavy, dark clothing

• Exert yourself excessively