Heat Exhaustion And Heat Stroke


Heat stress is the buildup in the body of heat generated by,

– your muscles during work, and/or,
– heat coming from a hot environment.

Heat exhaustion and eventually even heat stroke will result when the body is subjected to more heat than it can cope with…


When the body becomes overheated, less blood goes to the muscles, brain, and other internal organs.

You become…

– weaker
– tired sooner
– less alert
– less able to use good judgment

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include…

– profuse sweating
– weakness
– nausea
– vomiting
– headache
– light headed
– muscle cramps

As the condition becomes more severe, there can be a rapid rise in body temperature and heart rate. You may not realize that this is happening because there is no pain. Mental performance can be affected with an increase in body temperature of just 2 degrees F above normal. An increase of 5 degrees F can result in serious illness or death.

Heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke when the body’s temperature regulation fails and spirals out of control. The individual becomes confused, lethargic and may have a seizure, the skin stops sweating and the body temperature may exceed 106 F (41 C ). Its effects can include confusion, irrational behavior, convulsions, coma, and even death. Heat stroke can cause varying degrees of brain and kidney damage. More than 20 percent of people that get heat stroke die, even young and healthy adults.

The body normally generates heat as a result of metabolism, and the body is usually able to dissipate the heat by either radiation of heat through the skin or by evaporation of sweat. However, in extreme heat, high humidity, or vigorous exertion under the sun, the body may not be able to dissipate the heat and the body temperature rises

Those most susceptible to heat strokes are infants, the elderly, athletes, or any outdoor worker physically exerting themselves under the sun.


Prevent heat stroke and Beat the Heat


Hydrate. Most importantly, avoid becoming dehydrated. A dehydrated person may not realize that they are dehydrated, and will not be able to sweat fast enough to dissipate heat, which causes the body temperature to rise. Drink plenty of fluids (such as water and Gatorade).

Avoid vigorous physical activities in hot and humid weather (common sense). If you have to perform physical activities in hot weather, take frequent breaks to hydrate yourself.

Wear a hat, and light colored, loose clothes.

Avoid alcohol, coffee, and tea which may lead to dehydration.

Stay low. Heat rises. So the lowest room of the house will be cooler.

Open doors and windows early in the morning to let cool air in. Then as it heats up outside, cover the windows, blinds and curtains, and close windows and doors. Common sense is required here… For example, If it is has risen to 95 degrees outside and the house has only warmed to 84, then if you open the windows… the inside will quickly heat up to the outside temperature. On the other hand if the house has warmed up to 90 degrees and it’s 85 degrees outside, OPEN THE WINDOWS. Makes sense.

Vitalyte Electrolyte Powder Sports Drink Mix

Dunk your head in water or wet washcloth behind your neck. Arms, wrists, and elbows in water will help cool.

Spray bottle water mist, especially in front of fan will evaporate and cool the skin.

Put a metal bowl of ice in front of a fan, and adjust the fan so that the air is blowing over the ice. Or, use one or more 2 liter bottles and fill them mostly full of water, freeze them, then place them in a large bowl (to catch dripping water). Position a fan to blow on them.

Don’t use the stove or oven to eat. Eat cold food, or use the microwave. Incandescent light bulbs also create heat.

Soak a t-shirt in the sink, wring it out and put it on. Sit in a lawn chair (or other chair that lets air through to you) in front of a fan. Re-wet as it dries. Use lukewarm water for this so you don’t “shock” your system with cold water.

Soak your feet in a bucket of cold water. The body radiates heat from the hands, feet, face and ears, so cooling any of these will efficiently cool the body.

Sit still. Simply rest until the evening.

If all else fails… go to the mall, library, church, movie theater or some other air-conditioned public building.

More: Are You Dehydrated? Ever Had A Dehydration Headache?


  1. here in Aus we drink water like its going out of fashion. Alot of people get in strife when they try to hydrate with fizzy drinks like Cola etc…

    When I did alot of mountain biking in my younger years I always put two table spoons of iodised salt and 4 table spoons of brown sugar into my 2 litre Camel Pack – even in the heat the water would keep my hydrated – even if it tasted pretty ordinary.

    There are purpose made isotonic drinks out there but I think alot of them are just fillers and colours – if you wanted to flavour your water adding some lemon juice or orange concentrate would be a valid option.

  2. From what I understand, part of the problem with heat is electrolyte loss. Water won’t replace those. Where I live we have extremely long hot dry summers, so I keep bottles of Gatorade and Pedialyte in my pantry.

    A great tip my Grandma taught me about cooling off your house without electricity: Before you open the windows in the morning, wet down the window screens, then open the windows, it acts like a swamp cooler. If your house has wood shingle roof, spray some water up there, it will cool the whole house. (without electricity you will need a hand pump to do this)
    People who have lived here through the Depression, most without electricity, (like all my grandparents) are a wealth of information on how they got by in such a hot climate. Most of those people are gone now, but I have 10 Aunts and Uncles who were raised here who remember.

  3. It gets over 100 degrees here with high humidity. Texas is just plain hot. Lots of fluids and staying indoors is a must this time of here. If the electrical grid goes down, I see a whole lot of people having heatstrokes and major problems not knowing what to do.
    All these fancy new subdivisions, nobody plants enough shade trees. You need to plant plenty of shade trees on your property. Soak bandanas in cold water and wear around your neck. Get your work done in the morning time and limit activity in the hot part of the day. No cooking in the home to heat it up. Eat lightly during the day. Keep windows open and the wind flowing through.

  4. Texas is right on. If the grid goes down, alot of people are in trouble. It hits 100 degrees at 9 am! You need shade trees and plenty of water and during the hot part of the day, keep activity to a minimum. Even right now people get heat stroke all the time just from being outside a few hours and not drinking enough fluids.

  5. I only had heat exhaustion once, despite lots of hot humid summers working outside and under strenuous conditions. The one time it happened, I was alone, and I can honestly tell you it was very scary because I was not in full control of my awareness and struggled to help myself.

    I was working on some steam pipes and there was a temperature sensor (RTD) on the piping. The wires broke from cavitation from variances in temperature when the steam was on vented in that section or shut off, and during normal operation. There was also condensation which varied the temperature.

    I had to stand upon the steam piping and within an enclosure by myself and about 2am with no one around, and foolishly didn’t get a back up craftsman to stand around and help me.

    I had profuse sweating and then the telltale issue with the cessation of sweating. I kept working because I was trying to hurry so that they could use that section. It was extremely hot and the wires too short and there was no room for error whatsoever.

    I passed out and fell against the enclosure, and only by a miracle didn’t fall directly on to the steam pipes, but to the tile floor beneath and to the side of them.

    I felt uncontrollable shaking and tried to elevate my legs with my tool belt and tool pouch. Then I lost consciousness completely for at least five to ten minutes.

    At that time the company had salt tablets around and I drank some water with that in it when I struggled back to the shop. I felt completely trashed and weak.

    Under collapse conditions such a thing and by yourself could be fatal. It was completely avoidable had I simply gotten one person to assist me for thirty minutes. That’s usually how it is.

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