How to Avoid Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
April 20, 2017
Sun and fun go hand in hand, but as the mercury rises, so do your chances of keeling over from overdoing it in the heat. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but when you’re enjoying your next backpacking journey or hiking adventure, it’s important to know how to avoid heat exhaustion, and what to do if you start experiencing symptoms. To help keep you healthy and happy, we rounded up some must-know details ranging from the symptoms to watch for to strategies for keeping your cool.
Watch the Clock: Keep an eye on the time, and try to limit your most strenuous activities to cooler times of the day like morning or evening, instead of being active during the hottest part of the afternoon.
Wear the Proper Clothing: This is no time to sport your coolest rock-inspired wardrobe. Keep the tight, black clothing at home in favor of light and loose-fitting gear make from moisture wicking material.
Protect Yourself from the Sun: No shade? Protect yourself by wearing sunscreen. Sunburned skin doesn’t only cause premature wrinkles – it also makes it harder for your body to rid itself of excess heat. Grab a hat and rock some shades too.
Stay Hydrated: Don’t like plain water? Add some fruit for infused water, snag some sports drinks or drink some coffee or tea. Drinking plenty of fluids helps your body regulate its temperature. Cheers!
Know the Symptoms
Just like that NBC public service announcement says, “the more you know.” You like being outdoors, but nobody likes fainting, collapsing or falling into a coma, right? Watch out for these symptoms, and be aware that heat exhaustion can lead to dangerous heat stroke if you don’t treat it.
- Clammy skin with goose bumps
- Profuse sweating
- Muscle cramping
- Weak pulse, rapid heart rate
If you experience any symptoms, stop what you’re doing immediately and move to a cooler spot to rest. Drink cool water or an electrolyte beverage. If symptoms don’t improve or get worse within an hour, contact a doctor.
- Confusion, agitation, irritability
- Delirium, slurred speech, seizures, coma
- Throbbing headache
- Flushed skin
- Rapid breathing
- Hot, dry skin
- Racing pulse
- Body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
If you, or someone you know, experience any of these symptoms, find some shade or a cool area. Remove any extra clothing and do anything possible to cool off, including placing some ice packs on the head, neck, and armpits.