Feeling Hot, Hot, HOT!

It’s no secret it’s been a hot summer. As more than 60,000 descend on the area for Farm Technology Days, there’s no better time to talk about staying safe in the heat.

If you’re heading to Farm Technology Days or just spending time outside doing a favorite activity as the temperatures begin to climb, it’s essential to know the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses.

Here’s some advice to help you identify heat-related illnesses:

  • Heat cramps are painful muscle contractions -- usually in the lower legs -- that can be connected to heat, dehydration, and poor conditioning. Cramps improve with rest, drinking lots of water, and getting into a cool environment. 
  • Heat exhaustion causes a person to feel fatigued, dizzy, and nauseous. People also vomit, look pale and may faint. Heat exhaustion can be a medical emergency requiring intravenous fluids, especially if the person is vomiting and cannot keep fluids down.  Rest, drinking water, and getting into a cooled environment are key to recovery. Contact a health professional if symptoms don’t subside with rest and water.
  • Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat illness and develops when people are in hot environments. A person will usually have warm, flushed skin and likely won’t be sweating. Heat stroke can produce convulsions, shortness of breath, delirium, and an altered level of consciousness. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and the person needs to get to a hospital right away.

Preventing a heat-related illness is fairly easy and is summed up in one word: WATER!  Dehydration, by definition, is a loss of water and salts essential for normal body function. If you are not sweating enough because your body doesn’t have enough water, it’s more difficult to stay cool. Exercise, outdoor work, and overdressing in hot environments can increase your risk of over heating. Also remember drinking caffeine and alcohol beverages increase your chance of suffering from dehydration.

When heading outside this summer, stay safe by being sure to dress in light clothing, having a cool place to take breaks, and drinking plenty of fluids.

By Laura Lambert, EMT-Paramedic