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How can I prevent heat exhaustion?

To prevent heat exhaustion, make sure that you have enough water for your trip when you're going outside, whether it's just hiking or going to the park. Make sure, also, that you're watching and paying attention to everyone. A lot of times, there are barbeques and get togethers, and it's very easy to lose track of younger children who may be at increased risk, as well as the elderly.

If you know that you have family members or friends who are older and live by themselves, check in on them daily if possible. Their air conditioner may break down and they can be experiencing heat illness, or heat exhaustion, or heat stroke in their own homes and apartments, so check on them daily to make sure that they have enough water and supplies.

Parents should realize that if it is already 80 degrees outside, if they leave a child inside a car with windows up or windows down, the heat increases exponentially and that is not a safe area for a child. Parents should take children with them at all times to avoid any unfortunate accidents.

People really need to pay attention to the heat. It is very necessary for survival, but it can be detrimental to survival as well if people are not well-prepared for it. Get medical help if there's any emergency, any question of anything going wrong, whether someone is not acting right, someone is not breathing right, someone is nauseous, or you're concerned about a rash and such.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

When the summer sun begins to heat up your exercise habits, be sure to let your body adjust to your new workout temperature gradually.

People who are not used to exercising in hot weather are at greater risk of developing heat stroke. Allow your body to get accustomed to warmer workouts gradually by engaging in only moderately difficult activities during midday for a few weeks. Save hard workouts for the cooler mornings or evenings.

Exertional heat stroke occurs when physical activities combined with hot environmental temperatures overwhelm the body. The high body temperatures that result can cause organ damage. Symptoms of heat stroke include not only the signs of heat exhaustion (headache, weakness, lightheadedness, muscle aches, muscle cramps and agitation) but also the following symptoms: mental confusion, strange behavior, seizure and coma. If you start to feel odd while exercising, take a break in the shade and drink plenty of water. You may need to quit for the day and pick up your routine at another, cooler time. Also, never exercise in extreme heat.

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Dr. Leigh Vinocur, MD
Emergency Medicine Specialist

Any warning symptoms of heat illness should prompt you to get out of the heat and into some place cool while replacing your fluids. Here are some prevention tips to avoid heat-related illness:

  1. Stay Well Hydrated - Drink plenty of fluids; if you are sweating a lot, consider sports drinks to replace the salts and minerals.
  2. Cover Up in the Sun - Use sunscreen and wear loose, light-colored clothing as well as a brimmed hat.
  3. Limit Activity During the Hottest Part of the Day - Try not to be participating in outdoor activity during midday, which is the hottest part of the day. Pace yourself if you are exercising in the heat; you should not allow your heart rate to be pounding nor should you allow yourself to feel completely out of breath and gasping for air.
  4. If Indoors, Keep Your House Ventilated - If you are indoors and have no air-conditioning, open windows and use fans to circulate the air.
  5. Don't Delay Getting Help for Symptoms - If you find yourself or someone else might be suffering from heat-related illness, move to a cooler shady place, lie down, drink some fluids, and call 911.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.