With the current onslaught of boiling temperatures wreaking havoc across Southern Ontario as of late, what better time to dedicate a post to heatstroke and the ability to recognize the signs and symptoms of this condition. Heatstroke really is no joke, and for those of us who work outside in temperatures this extreme, it’s crucial to be aware of what heatstroke looks and feels like in hopes of preventing it from occurring.
According to WebMD, heatstroke is the most serious heat-related illness as it can damage the brain and other vital organs. It typically impacts individuals over the age of 50, but in extreme temperatures, anyone is susceptible. It can occur with no signs of heat-related illness, and it usually the result of extended exposure to high temperatures in combination with dehydration. When this happens, the body’s temperature control system fails, with the core body temperature exceeding 104 degrees Fahrenheit when heat stroke occurs. An internal body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher is the most common sign of heatstroke, but other common symptoms include:
- A throbbing headache
- Lack of sweating (despite the heat)
- Red, hot and dry skin
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat, which can either be strong or weak
- Shallow breathing
If you suspect you or someone you know has heat stroke, call 911 immediately. While waiting for paramedics to arrive, fan air over the person, wet their skin with cool water, apply ice packs to the person’s armpits, groin, neck, and back, and/or immerse the person in a shower or tub of cool water.
Heat stroke is nothing to take lightly, and if left untreated, it can be fatal.
If you’re working outside in extreme temperatures, take breaks and drink plenty of water, or, if possible, refrain from working outside until the evening.