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First Aid: Heat Illness
Heat exhaustion starts slowly, but if it's not quickly treated it can progress to heatstroke. In heatstroke, a person's temperature reaches 105°F (40.5°C) or higher. Heatstroke requires immediate emergency medical care and can be fatal.
Signs and Symptoms
Of heat exhaustion:
- increased thirst
- muscle cramps
- nausea and vomiting
- increased sweating
- cool, clammy skin
- elevation of body temperature, but to less than 105°F (40.5°C)
- severe headache
- weakness, dizziness
- rapid breathing and heartbeat
- loss of consciousness leading to coma
- may not be sweating
- flushed, hot, dry skin
- elevation of body temperature to 105°F (40.5°C) or higher
What to Do
If your child has symptoms of heatstroke, seek emergency medical care immediately. In cases of heat exhaustion or while awaiting help for a child with possible heatstroke:
- Bring the child indoors or into the shade immediately.
- Undress the child.
- Have the child lie down; elevate feet slightly.
- If the child is alert, place in cool bath water. If outside, spray the child with mist from a garden hose.
- If the child is alert and coherent, give frequent sips of cool, clear fluids.
- If the child is vomiting, turn onto his or her side to prevent choking.
- Teach kids to always drink plenty of fluids before and during any activity in hot, sunny weather — even if they aren't thirsty.
- Make sure kids wear light-colored, loose clothing in warm weather.
- Don't let kids participate in heavy activity outdoors during the hottest hours of the day.
- Teach kids to come indoors immediately whenever they feel overheated.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014
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