Preventing Heat Stroke

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Summer is the season to have fun with friends and family. Most people enjoy road trips, indoor and outdoor activities. I used to spend time with my grandparents in the country side when I was younger, and I truly enjoyed every moment I spent with them. As a nurse, safety is always my priority, and I love to educate others about healthy behaviors to avoid preventable injury. It was a hot day in Maryland today, and a heat advisory was in effect. Temperature was in the high 90’s, and it was hot and humid.

Heat Stroke

This condition occurs as a result of prolonged exposure to heat or following extreme exercise in the heat. The body overheats and temperature can rise up to 104 F (40 C) or higher. Normal body temperature is between 97(36 C) and 99 F ( 37.2 C). The condition requires emergency treatment to prevent acute multi organs failure due to severe dehydration, poor tissue perfusion and change in cardiac output. The brain is usually affected first, and most patients will demonstrate change in mental status, headache, dry skin, nausea, vomiting, fast breathing ( tachypnea) and racing heart rate ( tachycardia)

Wahoo Bay Beach Hotel Resort in Haiti.
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Treatment

You do not have to be a healthcare professional to save lives. If someone that you know exhibits the signs and symptoms mentioned above, please call emergency response (911) and ensure the scene is safe. Create a shade to prevent additional exposure to heat, remove heavy clothing, try to cool the body down with water, cool towels, fans, ice packs or use a spray bottle. Never feed nor offer drink to anyone who appears to be in acute distress unless you are a trained healthcare professional. Avoid excessive cold application to prevent nerve damage. The rule is to apply cool compress for 30 minutes or less.

Who is at Risk?

Pediatric and Geriatric population are at greater risk compare to young adults. However, young adults with underlying health conditions should consult their primary care providers before engaging in activities under the heat. Anyone with compromised health system is at risk ,and others with heat sensitivity might also be at risk.

Prevention

Consult a medical provider before engaging in strenuous outdoor physical activities, know your limitation, wear appropriate clothing, stay hydrated with water instead of soda or caffeinated drinks, wear a hat, apply broad-spectrum sun cream with SPF of at least 15, wear shades and never sit in heated car.

Severe Complications

Acute multi system failure and possibly death when treatment is delayed.

Go to Haiti and enjoy a nice summer vacation at the beach!

Sophia Georges MSN,RN

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