During a survival situation such as a hurricane, earthquake, etc. heat related illnesses can affect many people. Usually, most people think of fractures, concussions and wounds when expecting casualties. However, depending on your climate, suffering from heatstroke, etc. is a very real possibility.
If there’s a natural disaster and your power goes out, you may find yourself sitting in a home that has no electricity for fans, air-conditioning or even a fridge that may have cold drinks. If the weather is oppressive and humid, your home may become like a sweltering sauna.
You’ll be perspiring non-stop and may end up with a heat related illness. If you need to evacuate your home with your bug out bag and hike a few miles to the safe zone, the journey may exhaust you and make you faint. All these are very possible scenarios.
In this article we’ll look at 3 common heat related illnesses and explore how you can avoid them and/or treat them.
Heat exhaustion occurs when your body temperature is elevated to at least 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The symptoms you’ll see are dizziness, nausea, confusion, a weak but rapid pulse and a headache.
The moment you see someone suffering from heat exhaustion or you start feeling yourself having these symptoms, you need to immediately treat the problem before it escalates into a heatstroke which is much more serious.
Heatstroke can cause you to go into shock and even cause brain damage and organ failure. The casualty may be short of breath, start vomiting and developing a skin rash on the back, abdomen or chest.
The first thing you need to do is to IMMEDIATELY cool the body. Remove all the victim’s clothes, and place the victim in an area where they’re not exposed to heat, and away from direct sunlight. You’ll need to drench the affected person with lots of water and crushed ice. The cold water will help to dissipate the heat in the body.
If possible, place ice packs on the victim’s groin, under their armpits and on their neck. If you have towels, you can soak these in iced water and drape them on the victim. Bedsheets will do fine too.
In the event that you do not have electricity or access to ice, just pour water over the victim constantly and fan them. The wind blowing against their wet body will help to cool the skin to some degree.
Avoid giving the victim any kind of medication if they’re suffering from heat exhaustion. Instead you should ask them to take small sips of water so that they’re slowly rehydrated. This will be a slow process. It can take the victim more than a day to be fully rehydrated.
Usually, seniors are prone to fainting when it gets too hot. Should someone faint, immediately check if they have any head injuries. Lie the victim flat. Fainting caused by heat can be remedied once blood returns to the brain. By lying them down in a flat position, the blood will go to their brain and they’ll awaken in a short while.
Ensure that they lie down for about 30 minutes to recover. You may give the victim a sports beverage or a sweet drink so that they are rehydrated and they have a small blood sugar spike to make them feel better.
This usually happens when the body is lacking salt and water due to continuous perspiration from physical activity. Unlike heat exhaustion, it’s not the heat that causes the muscle cramps but the loss of fluid and salt from the body.
In the East, one remedy that’s used to treat this problem is to mix a teaspoon of salt and sugar in a glass of water and drink it. If you stopped to think about it, most sports beverages/isotonic drinks are basically just that. A way to replace the lost salt and electrolytes in your body.
Treat muscle cramps by drinking sports beverages or if you don’t have those, water with some salt will help too. Massage the affected area to improve blood circulation and relieve the pain.
The best way to prevent these illnesses from occurring is to stay hydrated and notice how you’re feeling. If the weather is hot, wear lightweight clothes. By recognizing the early symptoms, you’ll be able to take immediate action to mitigate the problem.
Keep an eye on children and seniors to see how they’re feeling. Make sure your family members inform you if they’re experiencing symptoms like light headedness dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, etc. With adequate warning, most heat illnesses can be prevented.