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Don't Let the Heat Beat You

As heat waves roll across the country, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to the
dangers of heat stroke.

You know the hotter you are, the more you sweat. That’s how your body controls its
temperature. Sometimes sweating isn’t enough and the body can’t cool down. That’s when fun
in the sun can turn dangerous – and even deadly.
Heat stroke happens when your body’s temperature soars to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
It can happen in as little as 15 minutes, and it can be deadly or cause permanent disability if it’s
not treated promptly. Protect yourself and your loved ones with these sun smart tips.

Know who’s at highest risk. Anyone can get heat stroke. Some are at greater risk, including:
● Infants and children up to age 4
● Older adults age 65+
● People who are overweight
● People who are ill
● People taking certain medications

When it’s hot, it’s a good idea to check on your elderly or ill neighbors, especially if they don’t
have reliable air conditioning. Always keep an eye on little ones who can’t always say exactly
how they feel. Never leave anyone unattended in a car, where temperatures can soar in

Be careful about alcohol. Whether it’s a day at the lake or a family picnic, drinking alcohol can
feel hydrating but it actually does the opposite. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes you
to urinate more fluid, which dehydrates you. The feeling of being intoxicated can also make you
miss a key symptom of heat stroke – confusion. Keep in mind that beverages with higher
alcohol content, such as craft beers, can sneak up on you and cause even more dehydration. If
you choose to drink, drink responsibly and make sure you’re hydrating with plenty of water.
Watch for warning signs. Heat stroke is a medical emergency. If you see the following signs,
the Centers for Disease Control recommends calling 911 right away. Then move to a cooler
place and help lower your temperature with a cool bath or cool cloths. Do not drink anything.

● High body temperature (103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher)
● Hot, red, dry or damp skin
● Fast, strong pulse
● Headache
● Dizziness
● Nausea
● Confusion
● Losing consciousness (passing out)
Heat exhaustion is also a serious condition that may require prompt medical attention.

Symptoms from the CDC include:

● Heavy sweating
● Cold, pale and clammy skin
● Fast, weak pulse
● Nausea or vomiting
● Muscle cramps
● Tiredness or weakness
● Dizziness
● Headache
● Fainting (passing out)

If any of these symptoms occur, the CDC recommends moving to a cool place quickly, loosening
your clothes and, if possible, taking a cool bath or putting cool, wet clothes on your body. Take
sips of water. You should get medical help immediately if you are throwing up, symptoms get
worse or last for longer than an hour.
You don’t have to be in the sun to suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke. It can happen in
houses without AC, on job sites and in cars. Heat-related illnesses can also occur when you’re
exercising. Until summer gives way to fall’s chill, remember to hydrate with plenty of water, take
breaks from the heat, watch for symptoms and check on your loved ones who may be more
vulnerable to heat illnesses.

Dr. Robert Kemp, MD



Dr. Robert Kemp, MD

Primary Care