Homeland Security and Emergency Services

Heat Health Hazards

thermometer
  • Heat Stroke: This condition is also known as sunstroke, which can be life threatening. Body temperature can rise and cause brain damage; death may result if not cooled quickly. Signals include hot, red and dry skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse, and shallow breathing. Relief for lowering body temperature can be with a cold bath or sponge.

  • Heat Exhaustion: This condition is less dangerous than heat stroke. It usually occurs when people exercise too heavily or work in warm, humid places where body fluids are lost. Signals include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness and exhaustion. If symptoms occur, get the victim out of sun, and apply cool, wet cloths.

  • Sunburn: Redness and pain; in severe cases, swelling of skin, blisters, fever, and headaches. Sunburn slows the skin's ability to cool itself. Ointments can be a relief for pain in mild cases. A physician should see serious cases.

  • Heat Cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms caused by heavy exertion. Signals are abdominal and leg muscle pain. Loss of water and salt from sweating causes cramping. Relief can be firm pressure on cramping muscles, or gentle massages to relieve cramping.

  • Heat Rashes: Heat rashes are a common problem resulting from persistent wetting of clothing by unevaporated sweat.