7 Ways to Beat The Heat, Heat Stroke & Exhaustion

Heat can kill. In fact, heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States. Between 2000 and 2009, excessive heat killed an average of 162 lives a year across the U.S. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the dangers associated with hot weather, like heat stroke and heat exhaustion. To help beat the heat and keep cool this summer, here are some tips from experts to keep safe, followed by ways to tell the difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion, as well as what to do in a heat-related emergency.

#1 – Never leave children, disabled persons, or pets in a parked car – even briefly.

Temperatures in a car can become life threatening within minutes. On an 80-degree day, the temperature inside a car even with the windows cracked slightly can reach 100 degrees in less than 10 minutes!

#2 – Keep your living space cool.

Cover windows to keep the sun from shining in. If you don’t have an air conditioner, open windows to let air circulate. When it’s hotter than 95 degrees, use fans to blow hot air out of the window rather than to blow hot air on to your body. Basements or ground floors are often cooler than upper floors.

#3 – Slow down and limit physical activity.

Plan outings or exertion for the early morning or after dark, when temperatures are cooler.

#4 – Drink plenty of water and eat lightly.

Don’t wait for thirst, but instead drink plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid alcohol or caffeine and stay away from hot, heavy meals.

#5 – Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.

Add a hat or umbrella to keep your head cool…and don’t forget sunscreen!

#6 – Don’t stop taking medication unless your doctor says you should.

Take extra care to stay cool, and ask your doctor or pharmacist for any special heat advice.

#7 – Taking a cool shower or bath will cool you down.

A shower or bath will actually work faster than air conditioner. Applying cold wet rags to the neck, head and limbs also cools down the body quickly.


What is the difference between Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke?

Heat Cramps – cramps or muscle spasms in the abdomen, arms or legs
Solution: Stop activity. Cool down, drink clear juice or sports drink.

Heat Exhaustion – heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, fainting.




Muscle cramps (arms, legs, abdomen)


Rapid pulse (tachycardia)



Profuse perspiration

Cool, moist skin

Rapid respiration

Body temperature may be normal, or slightly below normal, or as high as 102.2 degrees F.

Possible giddiness

Solution: Cool down, seek medical attention.

Caused by: Depletion of body fluids and electrolytes due to exposure to intense heat or the inability to acclimatize to heat, resulting in prolonged or severe diaphoresis. May progress to heat stroke.

Onset: May develop slowly after exposure to heat for several days and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids and electrolytes.

Heat Stroke – extremely high body temperature, red, hot, dry skin, rapid pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, unconsciousness.




Muscle cramps (arms, legs, abdomen)


Rapid pulse (tachycardia)


Absence of perspiration

Hot, dry, red or mottled skin

Slow deep respiration

Extremely high body temperature (104 degrees F/40 degrees C or above, rectally)

Mental confusion, disorientation, delirium, irrational behavior, feeling of euphoria or impending doom, diminished level of consciousness, loss of consciousness may be abrupt

Confusion may occur early or late

Signs of shock



Solution: Call 911 and cool the victim with shower or hose until help arrives.

Onset: May develop quickly (within minutes).

ChrisByrnes.com - Emergency Medicine

How to respond in an emergency heat stroke or heat exhaustion situation

  1. Call for transport to a medical facility immediately
  2. Apply cool water, sponging, and cool fluids by mouth if still alert
  3. Attempt to reduce body temperature to 102 degrees F as rapidly as possible
  4. Transport to medical center for temperature stabilization and prevention/treatment of complications.

People at higher risk of a heat-related illness

  • Older adults
  • Infants and young children
  • People with chronic heart or lung problems
  • People with disabilities
  • Overweight persons
  • Those who work outdoors or in hot settings
  • Users of some medications, especially those taken for mental disorders, movement disorder, allergies, depression, and heart or circulatory problems
  • People who are isolated that don’t know when or how to cool off – or when to call for help

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