Heat Stroke

NMSU Fire Department wants you to be health safe during this warm weather escalation period! Our temperatures have already risen above 90 degrees Fahrenheit!

Heat stroke can be the most serious form of all heat related injuries and should be consider a serious medical emergency.  If heat stroke, also known as sunstroke, is suspected in a person you should call 911.You should also render aid to the person, if so trained, and wait with the person until the Fire Department can arrive to take over aid. Heat stroke can kill or cause serious damage to the brain, and other internal organs, and should be handled as a serious emergency medical situation. It is believed that heat stroke normally only effects persons in their older years (50 plus) but in fact, heat stroke and other heat related injuries, can and has effected young healthy athletes.

Heat stroke can occur as a progression from milder heat related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat syncope (fainting) and heat exhaustion. Heat stroke can strike even if you have no other pervious signs or symptoms of other heat injuries. Heat stroke is most often the result of prolonged exposure to high temperatures and is usually found to be in combination with dehydration. This can lead to the failure of the body’s temperature control system. Medical professionals define heat stoke as the body’s core temperature being greater than 105 degrees Fahrenheit and complications involving the central nervous system that normally occurs after prolonged exposure to high temperatures.

Common symptoms for heat stroke are but not limited to: nausea, seizures, confusion, disorientation and sometimes loss of consciousness or even possibly a coma.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Throbbing headaches
  • Dizziness and light headedness
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Red, hot and dry skin
  • Muscle weakness and/or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation or staggering
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

First Aid for Heat Stroke

If heat stroke is suspected in a person, immediately call 911 and render aid. Wait with the person until trained personnel arrive to assist. Any delay in this could be fatal. While waiting for the fire department or other medically trained personal to arrive, move the person from the heat as best possible. An air conditioned building or car would be the best place. Remove any unnecessary clothing from the person. If possible, take the person’s temperature. If the person’s temperature is higher the 101 degrees Fahrenheit take actions to cool the person’s body temperature to at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Here are a few strategies that may help you to achieve this.

  • Fan air over the patient while wetting his or her skin with water from a sponge or garden hose.
  • Apply ice packs to the patient’s armpits, groin, neck and back. Because these areas are rich with blood vessels close to the skin, cooling them may reduce body temperatures.
  • Immerse the patient in a shower or tub of cool water or an ice bath.

These few strategies could help cool the body temperature and allow the body to begin to cool itself.

Be safe!


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