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Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat-related Illness

Link to Spanish version.

Heat Cramps

  • Muscle pains or spasms that occur usually in the legs, arms, or abdomen.
  • They may occur during strenuous activity and can be a prelude to heat exhaustion.

Heat Exhaustion

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting

Heat Stroke

  • Body temperature above 103°F
  • Red, hot, and dry skin with no sweating
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

Prevention

  • Air conditioning is the number one protective factor! Stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home isn’t air-conditioned, visit the mall, public library, or contact your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.
  • Increase fluid intake to two to four cups (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids every hour. If you’re on water pills or restricted fluid limit, consult your physician first.
  • Avoid liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar, which cause you to lose body fluid. Very cold drinks can cause stomach cramps and should be avoided as well.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and sunscreen with a SPF 15 or higher and broad spectrum or UVA/UVB protection.
  • NEVER leave anyone, especially children and elderly, in a closed, parked vehicle, even if the windows are cracked.
  • Check on at-risk populations at least twice a day and closely monitor them for any warning signs. At-risk populations include:
    • Infants and children
    • People over 65 years of age
    • People with a mental illness
    • People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure

First Aid for Heat Illness

  • Seek medical attention immediately for extreme heat illness.
  • Take a cool shower or bath to lower body temperature.
  • Drink cool liquids that do not contain sugar or alcohol.
  • Get to an air conditioned environment or shady area and rest.

Internet Resources

Injury Prevention Service, OSDH, 1000 NE 10th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73117
Revised May 2012

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