Overheating can cause a variety of problems, ranging in severity from uncomfortable to life-threatening. The best way to prevent heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke is to learn what causes them and take steps to cool off and hydrate if you start to overheat. Here’s what you need to know:
Heat cramps are painful, involuntary muscle spasms that usually occur during heavy exercise in hot environments. [i]
- Heavy sweating
- Muscle pain or spasms
- Move to a cool place and take a break from physical activity.
- Drink water or a sports drink to rehydrate and replenish your electrolytes.
- Seek medical attention if cramps last longer than an hour.
Heat exhaustion occurs when the body becomes dehydrated and is unable to regulate its internal body temperature. [ii]
- Fast, weak pulse
- Cold, pale, clammy skin
- Dizziness or fainting
- Nausea or vomiting
- Move to a cool place.
- Loosen clothing & apply cool cloths to skin.
- Sip water.
- Seek medical attention if symptoms last for more than an hour or get worse.
Heatstroke occurs when the body’s temperature is 104ºF or higher. It can be a life-threatening medical emergency and if you experience any of the below symptoms, contact 911. [iii]
- Fast, strong pulse
- Headache or dizziness
- Call 911 right away.
- Do not give the person anything to drink.
- Move to a cool place and apply cool cloths to the skin.