Heatstroke: Preventions and solutions

It’s summer time and already we can all feel the blazing heat of the sun bearing down upon us all here in the Philippines and in the other countries of the same season during this time of the year. Just saw news report in GMA 7’s “Saksi” that temperatures in Metro Manila have hit the 37 C mark which is equivalent to the normal human body temperature. I’ve even heard that this would just be the beginning and expect temperatures to rise higher in the coming summer days.

This increases certain health risks particularly heat stroke or hyperthermia (hyperpyrexia).

It is an acute condition which occurs when the body produces or absorbs more heat than it can dissipate. It is usually due to excessive exposure to heat. The heat-regulating mechanisms of the body eventually become overwhelmed and unable to effectively deal with the heat, and body temperature climbs uncontrollably. If not treated, heat stroke can be fatal.

So how to avoid getting a heat stroke? Here are some points to help stay cool, literally.

  • Wear a cap or a hat – One of the easiest solutions of providing relief from the summer sun. Caps and hats are not only portable, they could also be a fashion statement while providing your head, face and eyes with shade and protection from the summer heat.
  • Bring and actually use umbrellas – Unless you have a cap or a hat large enough to provide shade for your entire body don’t bother to bring an umbrella at all. Alas, no such hat or cap exists so it’s better to bring an umbrella every time you go out into the summer heat. Like caps and hats, umbrellas too can be a fashion statement.
  • Bring hand fans or portable electric fans – Fans comes in all shapes, sizes, colors and designs. They bring a steady breeze to keep you cool or in the absence of a cap or hat, provide some shade to your head or face whenever the sun shines too hot on you. If you run out of muscle power there are small and portable electric fans that are battery-powered. Usually the size of a small flashlight some could even be fitted in specially designed caps or hats. Either choice of hand or electric portable fans would help you stay cool and safe this summer.
  • Wear loose or comfortable clothes with light materials – Trust me, summer time is not the time to strut those coats, suits and jackets because even if you’re a member of a boyband like Backstreet boys (when they were still young and cool), a few hours under the sun wrapped in those heavy clothings will do nasty things to your body, in this case a heatstroke. Wear clothes made from cotton, silk, satin or other light fabrics that the wind could easily penetrate. Again, bringing out your summer outfit would keep you cool, both fashion-wise and literally.
  • Avoid wearing clothes with dark colors – This is a follow up to the previous tip. Black, gray and other earth colors must be avoided this summer because these colors tend to retain your body heat and bring in more heat from the outside by absorbing them. Trust me, even if you’re feeling emoish (which I hope not), you’d soon find that wearing long-sleeved black shirts with matching tight black pants with chains and all is not a good idea if you’re going out for a stroll under the summer sun.
  • Drink more water or other fluids than the usuall – Whenever going out in the heat of the day, bring with you something drink. Water, fruit juices even energy drinks would do the job of replenishing your lost body fluids due to the heat which induces sweating. Avoid alcohol, coffee and tea because they help in dehydrating your body which you do not want to happen. It’s better to go to the bathroom more than the usual just to pee than going to the hospital and be treated for heatstroke. Believe me, it could kill you.
  • Stay in the shade – This is the simplest and most effective way of avoiding a heatstroke. There’s a big difference between getting a tan and getting fried like an egg under the heat of the sun.

For some strange reason you do not follow the above-mentioned tips and you do the exact opposite of them, how do you’re suffering from heatstroke? Here are the general symptoms:

  • high body temperature
  • the absence of sweating, with hot red or flushed dry skin
  • rapid pulse
  • difficulty breathing
  • strange behavior
  • hallucinations
  • confusion
  • agitation
  • disorientation
  • seizure
  • coma

So now you or someone is having a heatstroke, what do you do? Here are some first-aid measures.

Your goal: Lower the body temperature immediately.

  • Passive cooling – remove the victim’s clothes, be careful and sensitive about this one, to promote heat loss.
  • Active cooling – the person is bathed in cool water, a hyperthermia vest can be applied, or wrapped in a cool wet towel. Cold compresses to the upper body, head, neck, and groin will help cool the victim.
  • Evaporative method – use a fan to help evaporate his sweat or water, this will cool down the person’s body.
  • Immersion method – immerse the person in a tub of cold water. This would require other persons to help you carry and handle the victim and to save him from drowning.
  • Oral rehydration – give water to the victim to help in replenishing his lost fluids and to cool his body from the inside.

Of course after applying first-aid measures, bring the victim to a hospital for proper treatment and recovery. Remember these preventive measures and stay safe while having fun under the summer sun.

2 Replies to “Heatstroke: Preventions and solutions”

  1. Great tips. The temperature recorded last Friday in Metro Manila was the hottest so far according to PAGASA. The global warming effects have been showing up. We should be alarmed and act on this.

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