As a Texas resident, you know blazing summers are a fact of life. But even the heartiest Texan must admit this August is especially brutal. The current heat wave makes it more than just difficult to move around or spend time outside, it’s also potentially dangerous – especially for young children and the elderly, the two subgroups most likely to suffer from heat exhaustion.
To help you keep yourself and your loved ones safe, here’s what you need to know about heat exhaustion, how to spot it, and how to treat it immediately.
Understand Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion can occur whenever the body is depleted of two vital needs – water and salt. Hot temperatures can cause the body to lose both of these resources through sweat. Water depletion may cause a person to be excessively thirsty, suffer from headaches or even lose consciousness. Early symptoms of heat exhaustion from salt deprivation include vomiting, dizziness, and muscle cramps.
Recognize Common Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
In addition to the specific symptoms listed above, victims may show other common symptoms of heat exhaustion, which include any or all of the following: fatigue, pale skin, profuse sweating, rapid heartbeat, dark-colored urine, fainting, and confusion. It is very common for a person suffering from heat exhaustion to show one or more of these symptoms at the same time.
Identify Common Risk Factors
Age is the first risk factor you should address first. Specifically, children under the age of 4 and adults over the age of 65 have a higher risk of suffering from heat exhaustion than other people. This is because they adjust their body’s temperature more slowly than other age groups.
In addition to age considerations, people who are overweight or underweight are more likely to suffer heat exhaustion, as are people with kidney, lung, or heart diseases. People taking certain medications such as stimulants, blood pressure medication, or tranquilizers can also increase their risk of suffering heat exhaustion.
Start the Proper Medical Treatment Immediately
If you suspect someone – especially a child or senior – is suffering from heat exhaustion, don’t wait to begin treatment. Start by getting them out of the heat and into shade or, better yet, an air-conditioned room, if possible.
Once they are out of the heat, instruct them to start drinking plenty of fluids and surround them with cooling measures like fans or cold towels applied to their skin. While you are applying these treatments, prepare a cool bath for the person to rest in. Allow the person to sit for 15 minutes, and if you haven’t noticed the symptoms of heat exhaustion disappearing, seek medical help immediately.
As we face more Texas summer heat, please be on the lookout for these four signs of heat-related sickness to keep your family safe.