How To Treat Heat Stroke With Basic First Aid
Heatstroke is one of the leading contributors to sports-related deaths – mainly because it’s hard to see it coming. A heat stroke is deceptive. It will sneak up on you before you even realize it. And once it’s hit, it’s challenging to overcome on your own.
Difficult … but not impossible.
Like it’s cousin, hypothermia, immediate and fast action is required to effectively treat heatstroke. There’s often not any time to stop and think. So it’s crucial that you know how to confidently treat heatstroke should the need arise – especially if you’re prone to riding when it’s hot outside.
What Is Heatstroke?
Heatstroke is the most serious and life-threatening illness of the three heat-related illnesses – cramps, exhaustion, and stroke.
It occurs as a result of the body overheating. And it can do serious damage within a short amount of time – damage to the heart, brain, kidneys, and muscles. The longer heatstroke goes untreated, the worse the damage will become – eventually leading to death.
What Causes Heatstroke?
Heatstroke occurs when the body temperature rises to 104°F or above. The most frequent cause of this drastic increase in temperature is due to overexertion in hot and humid conditions.
Other factors that contribute to this rise in body temp include:
- Long exposure to very high temperatures
- Lack of proper hydration
- Wearing excess clothing (clothing that hinders the body’s ability to sweat)
- Drinking alcohol (affects the body’s ability to regulate temperature)
It goes without saying that all of the causes and risk factors above are common concerns for anyone who rides during the summer. So our first plan of defense against heat stroke should be to make sure we’re taking the appropriate preventative measures:
- Avoiding prolonged exposure to high temperatures
- Staying properly hydrated with water or electrolyte-rich drinks
- Wearing breathable clothing
- Refraining from drinking alcohol
Learn To Recognize The Symptoms
It’s important to know the first heatstroke symptoms – either for yourself or for the people you’re riding with. The earlier you can notice it, the better your chances that it can be adequately treated. Here are the most common symptoms:
- Altered behavior. The person becomes confused, agitated, irritable, etc.
- Slurred speech
- Hot and dry skin. Especially if brought on by hot weather.
- Moist skin. Especially if brought on by strenuous activity.
- Reddening of the skin.
- Rapid and shallow breathing.
- Intense headache.
- Increased heart rate.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- High body temperature. 104 or higher.
How To Treat Heat Stroke
Remember, as soon as you see the first signs, start treatment immediately. Here’s what you need to do:
- Call 911 immediately (if possible)
- Get the person out of the heat as soon as possible. Get them indoors. If that’s not possible, then find a shaded area.
- Remove all excess clothing.
- Cool the person by whatever means possible. Soak a rag or cloth in cool water and place it on his head, neck, armpits, and groin. Submerge his body in a cool body of water. Spray him with cool water. Fan him. Anything you can do to help cool him down.
- Seek medical attention immediately. Even if he seems to be doing better, your next stop should always be the closest medical center.
Remember, the sooner you identify heatstroke symptoms, the faster you will recover!
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