The Korey Stringer Institute (KSI) out of the University of Connecticut offers important information about heat-related illnesses. Being able to recognize the signs may help you or someone you know.
Individuals experiencing heat exhaustion should respond quickly to treatment. If not, exertional heat stroke should be suspected. In this case, obtain a rectal temperature and assess central nervous system function to rule out exertional heat stroke. If the person is experiencing heat exhaustion, the rectal temperature should be < 40°C/104°F.
To treat heat exhaustion:
- Move the individual to a cool/shaded area and remove excess clothing
- Elevate legs to promote venous return
- Cool the individual with fans, rotating ice towels, or ice bags
- Provide oral fluids for rehydration
Heat stroke is an emergency. There is no time to waste.
- Remove all equipment and excess clothing.
- Cool the person as quickly as possible within 30 minutes via whole body ice water immersion (place them in a tub/stock tank with ice and water approximately 35–58°F); stir water and add ice throughout cooling process.
- If immersion is not possible (no tub or no water supply), take the person into a cold shower or move to shaded, cool area and use rotating cold, wet towels to cover as much of the body surface as possible.
- Maintain airway, breathing and circulation.
- After cooling has been initiated, activate emergency medical system by calling 911.
- Monitor vital signs such as rectal temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, monitor CNS status.
- If rectal temperature is not available, DO NOT USE AN ALTERNATE METHOD (oral, tympanic, axillary, forehead sticker, etc.). These devices are not accurate and should never be used to assess someone exercising in the heat.
- Cease cooling when rectal temperature reaches 101–102°F (38.3–38.9°C).
- Exertional heat stroke has had a 100% survival rate when immediate cooling (via cold water immersion or aggressive whole body cold water dousing) was initiated within 10 minutes of collapse.
Read Ariel’s Checklist to get step-by-step instructions. We hope your family can benefit from the things we learned during our time of loss.