Heat stroke is one of the most dangerous but avoidable heat-related injuries — and it can strike anyone.
Heat stroke occurs when your internal core temperature reaches 105° F and your body can no longer cool itself down. If you are exposed to prolonged heat, whether at work or outdoors, and notice signs of heat stroke, seek care right away.
How to recognize the signs of heat stroke
Common symptoms of heat stroke include the following:
- Sweating stopped, but still feel hot
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
- Confusion, or lack of mental clarity
- Intense headache, much more severe than what you normally feel when spending time in the sun
- Feeling hot, with bright red skin*
Recovery from heatstroke depends on the amount of time it takes the body to return its temperature back to normal. If you or anyone you see has the above symptoms, follow this treatment plan:
- Call 911.
- Move out of direct sunlight. Try heading indoors or at least to the closest shady spot.
- Remove any excess clothing.
- Cool the body down with air and ice if available. It's best to hit the places where you find the most blood vessels: neck, back, groin and armpits.
How to prevent heat stroke
To avoid heat stroke, you can take several preventive measures:
- If you've had heat stroke before, exercising intensely outside in high heat isn't recommended because you are at a higher risk of getting it again.
- Watch your urine to make sure you stay hydrated — it should be light in color.
- When exercising in heat, stop for drink breaks every 15 minutes. Watch for dehydration symptoms such as licking your lips often, sunken eyes or feeling a loss of energy.
- Wear light colors and light, loose fabrics.
- Teach your children to come indoors when they feel hot. Model this behavior as well.
- Don't head outside during the hottest hours of the day.
Pets are not immune to heat stroke. Animals don't have efficient cooling systems. Watch for these symptoms:
- Reddened gums
- Small amount of urine or no urine
- Seeming wobbly on their feet