The body is adapted to a certain temperature range. When body temperature falls too low or too high, vital body processes can be significantly affected resulting in a host of health problems. Exposure to excessive heat such as prolonged stay in hot environment, especially during summer, and poor workplace conditions can lead to emergencies.
Disclaimer: the material posted on this page on emergencies due to excessive heat is for learning purposes only. To learn how to manage, recognize and prevent heat emergencies sign up for St Mark James first aid and CPR classes.
1. Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is true medical emergency that results in the body’s failure to regulate temperature, causing excessive rise in core body temperature. The person eventually loses ability to get rid of heat. To compound the problem, the victim fails to produce sweat as a result of loss of fluid and salt from the body. Some of the most common victims of heat stroke include labourers, athletes and other people who work or perform physical activities under hot environments. Children who are left in a closed car without proper ventilation and elderly people who live in a poorly ventilated house are also at increased risk.
Obviously, the number of heat stroke cases increases during hot summer days, although it can also result from exposure to dry heat. Many people think that heat stroke is caused by exposure to sun but actually it can be caused by any heat source.
All cases of heat stroke are considered serious and should be given prompt, treatment. Victims should be cooled off by removing the heat source or applying cooling agents.
2. Heat Cramps
Exposure to heat for a prolonged period of time can lead to heat cramps. The environmental temperature can just be a little over the “normal” environmental temperature. Victims of heat cramps experience heavy sweating, often feeling too thirsty and drinking large volumes of water. Excessive sweating eventually leads to loss of salts in the body, causing painful muscle cramps. It is not certain whether loss of water alone can lead to heat cramps or just a contributory factor. Most health experts believe that the loss of water and salt is what causes heat cramps.
3. Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion results from performing physical activities in a poorly ventilated or hot environment. It can happen to any person, even if you are healthy. Performing physical activities in a hot environment can lead to shock as a result of loss of salt and fluid in the body. The most common victims of heat exhaustion include fire-fighters, dock workers, construction workers, athletes, and those whose job requires staying in a poorly ventilated environment. This condition is commonly reported during summer and when there are prolonged heat waves. People who experience heat exhaustion need to take increased amounts of fluid to change the lost fluid and maintain vital body processes. If not treated immediately, it can eventually lead to heat stroke.
Drinking enough amounts of water is one simple but very effective way of preventing emergencies related to heat. And as much as possible, stay out of very hot environments.
To learn to recognize, prevent and manage heat emergencies sign up for first aid and CPR training courses with a credible St Mark James provider.