- Dizziness, light-headedness, fainting
- Throbbing headache
- Red, hot, dry skin with no sweating
- Muscle weakness or cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat, either strong or weak
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Confusion, disorientation, or staggering
- Seizures, unconsciousness, or coma
Who gets heat stroke?
- Classic heatstroke develops over 2–3 days of exposure, typically among older (over 50), sedentary people with no air-conditioning who often have inadequate fluid intake.
- Exertional heatstroke occurs more suddenly and affects healthy, active people like athletes, military recruits, and factory workers. It's the second leading cause of death in young athletes.
Treating heat strokeIf you suspect someone has had a heat stroke, delay can kill. Call 911 immediately or get that person straight to a hospital. If help is on the way, here are some immediate interventions you can perform, depending on location:
- Move the person to a cooler space—air-conditioned, if possible, or anywhere cooler or shadier
- Remove unnecessary clothing
- If possible, take the person's temperature
- Fan the person while wetting his or her skin with water
- Apply ice packs to the victim's armpits, groin, neck, and back, where blood vessels are close to the skin
- Immerse the patient in a shower or tub of cool water or an ice bath
Preventing heat strokeWhen it's very hot, heat wave or not, it's best to stay in an air-cooled or air-conditioned environment—ideally, your own home. If your home has no fans or air conditioning:
- Spend the hottest part of the day somewhere cool.
- Open windows at night and close your blinds during the day to retain the night's cooler air.
- Cool off under a wet towel and spray cool water on your skin.
- Choose foods you can grill or eat cold—don't bake or boil.
- Don’t eat large or protein-rich meals—they warm your body from within.
- Avoid dehydrating alcohol and caffeine.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Spend time in air-conditioned public buildings— malls, museums, and libraries, or in cooling centers
- Use a sunscreen of SPF 30 or more.
- Drink extra fluids, even if you’re not thirsty.