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With summer comes lots of fun outdoor activities—whether you’re lying by the pool or playing on a baseball field. Keep heat stress at bay by knowing how to prevent heat-related illnesses and recognize the symptoms in yourself and others.
The most serious of heat illnesses, heatstroke can be deadly and swift. Your body temperature could rise to 106 degrees or more in as little as 10–15 minutes. Heatstroke happens when your body’s temperature rises rapidly, but it cannot sweat quickly enough to cool itself. Symptoms include hot, dry skin or the opposite, profuse sweating; hallucinations; chills; throbbing headache; confusion or dizziness; and slurred speech.
If you see someone with symptoms of heatstroke, immediately call 911 and move the person to a shady area. Try misting the person with cold water, soaking his or her clothes, and fanning him or her until help arrives.
Heat exhaustion is the result of heavy sweating—extreme loss of salt and water. People prone to heat exhaustion include the elderly, those with high blood pressure and people who work in hot conditions. Besides excessive sweating, symptoms include extreme weakness or fatigue, dizziness and confusion, nausea, clammy skin, muscle cramps, and shallow, rapid breathing.
If a person suffers from heat exhaustion, move him or her to a shaded area or an indoor space with air conditioning. The victim should drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages and take a cool shower or bath.
Sunbathers may be prone to heat syncope, which is dizziness or fainting after lying (or standing) for long periods of time. Dehydration can contribute to an episode of heat syncope, so keep a water bottle handy when you head to the beach.
If you feel dizzy after lying for a long time, sit or lie back down in a cool place and sip on a cool beverage—water, sports drinks or clear juice.