Heatstroke is a condition in which sweat is lost more quickly than it's produced, especially dangerous when camping or hiking. As sweat evaporates, your skin cools. When the cooling system fails to work, your body temperature rises rapidly. Too-high temperatures are deadly and need to be treated immediately.
Heatstroke can be caused by working vigorously in hot weather conditions. Lack of fluid is another common factor. Your body needs to stay hydrated in order to produce sweat. The more you sweat, the more fluid you lose.
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke will occur with little or no warning. Time is of the essence. The symptoms you see need to be dealt with instantly. Signs and symptoms include a very high body temperature (ranging from 104° to 107°) and can even become higher than that. Other symptoms are a rapid pulse, dry, hot skin, dizziness, headache, fatigue, and loss of consciousness.
Not only are there physical symptoms but also psychological symptoms. Be aware that people suffering from hallucinations, disorientation, and confusion often have heatstroke first.
The first thing you need to do is to get emergency help. This needs to be done in all situations, whether you're sure it's heatstroke or not. It's a fatal condition that will kill without medical attention. While you're waiting for help, move the person to the coolest place possible. If you're camping, move them to a shady place or air-conditioned camper.
Remove as much clothing as allowed and apply cold water to their skin. Fan them next to cool down their body. Apply ice packs and elevate their feet slightly. As soon as they regain consciousness, give them something to drink, preferably water or a sports drink.
Prevention is always the best way to keep everyone safe. There are several things you can do that will make heatstroke unlikely when outdoors. Remember to be aware of the signs at all times and follow prevention rules for safe recreational activities.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol which have a dehydrating affect and will speed up loss of fluids.
- Take frequent breaks when working in the heat.
- Be aware that the more humid the weather, the harder it is to rid of excess heat.
- Get used to the heat before you spend much time in it.
- Don't wear heavy clothing. Wear it loose and choose light materials that will "breathe," such as cotton. Spandex is popular but not recommended as it restricts air flow and traps in heat.
- Dark colors attract heat so stick with light colors.
- Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
This information is in no way intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Use this guide at your own risk and seek medical attention as soon as possible.