First Aid for Heat Emergencies

There are two main types of heat emergencies that require first aid:

Heat Exhaustion: Heat exhaustion can result from exposure to hot, humid environments. Symptoms include moist, pale, clammy skin; heavy sweating; normal or below-normal body temperature; weakness; dizziness; headache; nausea; vomiting; muscle cramps; fainting. Left untreated, it may progress to heatstroke.

Heatstroke: Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency marked by an extremely high body temperature that results from overexposure to heat. Symptoms include a high body temperature, possibly above 106 degrees Fahrenheit; red, hot, dry skin; lack of sweating; constricted pupils; rapid pulse (more than 100 beats per minute); confusion or unconsciousness. WITHOUT IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION, VICTIM MAY DIE.

Heat Exhaustion

  1. Move victim into shade or to cooler area.

  2. Loosen victim's clothing, and have victim rest with feet up.

  3. Use fan or air conditioning to cool victim.

  4. Apply wet towels or ice packs wrapped in cloth to skin.

  5. Give victim sips of cold water or a sports drink -- 1/2 glass every 15 minutes for 1 hour. Stop offering drink if victim vomits, and call for EMS.

  6. Call for EMS if victim does not improve within 1/2 hour or refuses drink.
Heatstroke:
  1. Call for EMS.

  2. Undress victim.

  3. Have victim lie down. If victim vomits, roll them onto their side, and be sure their airway is clear.

  4. Wrap victim in cool, wet towels, and place ice packs wrapped in cloth in areas of abundant blood supply -- neck, armpits, groin.

  5. Observe for shock (see shock) and monitor ABCs (see ABCs).
To learn more about first aid and emergency care, see:
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.