Preventing Heat Illnesses

Understanding and Preventing Heat Illnesses this Summer

As temperatures hit their peak during the summer, so does the risk of experiencing a heat-related illness. Despite the fact that heat illnesses are completely preventable, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 650 people die from exposure to extreme heat each year. Here’s what you should know to help keep you and your family healthy and safe all summer long.

Common Heat Illnesses

Heat-related illnesses occur when the body is exposed to high temperatures, high humidity, and extended periods of direct sunlight. When this happens the body’s natural ability to cool itself through sweating and radiating heat may not be enough to regulate body temperature, resulting in heat illnesses.

Dehydration

Dehydration happens when your body loses more fluids than your body is taking in, which then negatively impacts the way your body is functioning.

Some common signs and symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Feeling extreme thirst

  • Dry mouth

  • Urinating less than usual

  • Dry skin

  • Tiredness

  • Dizziness

Heat Exhaustion

Similarly to dehydration, heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses an excessive amount of water and salt - typically as a result of sweating. Heat exhaustion happens when your body is attempting to cool itself down to accommodate for extreme temperatures.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion typically include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Irritability
  • Thirst
  • Excessive sweating
  • Urinating less than usual
  • Dizziness
  • High body temperature

Heatstroke

Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat-related illness that happens when the body’s temperature is so rapidly increasing that the body is unable to cool itself down through sweating mechanisms. This becomes serious because the body’s temperature reaches 106°F or higher within a 10 to 15-minute window. This extremely high body temperature can result in permanent brain damage and even death if it is not properly treated.

Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dry skin
  • Profuse sweating
  • High body temperature
  • Seizures

Preventative Tips

Stay Hydrated

Regardless of if you are staying active or relaxing indoors, it is important to stay hydrated. It is also important to avoid sugary drinks and alcohol during extremely high temperatures because these can actually cause you to lose more fluid than you’re taking in.

Wear Loose-Fitting Clothing

Remember to wear loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothing. These clothing choices can help to protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun while also allowing your skin to breathe and release heat.

Limit Exposure to Direct Sunlight

Whether you decide to relax under a shady tree or seek solace inside with the air conditioner on full blast, staying in shady cool areas can help to prevent your body from overheating. If you decide to spend time outdoors, try to spend less time in direct sunlight to help your body adequately cool down.

Primary Care in Ridgecrest, California

At Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, our team of highly trained and experienced family physicians and internists is dedicated to providing healthcare services to patients of all ages in Ridgecrest and surrounding areas.


To learn more about our pediatric care services or schedule an appointment, visit our website or give us a call at (760) 446-3551 (Mon-Fri 8 AM-4:30 PM).