Temperatures reached 94 degrees about 4 p.m. Friday, July 19, according to the National Weather Service, and the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department is sharing information on how to deal with heat emergencies.
Heat emergencies usually fall into three categories of increasing severity: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and finally heat stroke, which is a life-threatening medical emergency, according to information from the Fire Department.
More information on heat emergencies from the Fire Department:
Heat cramps result from dehydration and electrolyte loss. As the body loses water through sweat, essential body salts and electrolytes are lost which result in muscles cramping. Muscle cramps, fatigue, profuse sweating, and thirst are early symptoms of a heat emergency.
Heat exhaustion includes many of the symptoms listed above. However later symptoms such as headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting and cool, moist skin can develop. This is a heat-related emergency that requires medical intervention.
Heatstroke symptoms may include rapid breathing, rapid pulse, a drop in blood pressure, dry, hot, and red skin, irrational behavior, fever, seizures, unconsciousness and coma. This is a life-threatening medical emergency that must be treated in a hospital setting.
Body temperatures above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) are life-threatening. At 107 degrees Fahrenheit (41.7 degrees Celsius) brain death begins and at 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius) death is nearly certain.
Anyone can be stricken by heat illness. However, certain groups are more susceptible to heat illness and injury:
Those who engage in excessive physical activity under harsh conditions (such as firefighters, construction workers and athletes)
Prior to the arrival of the Fire Department and ambulance, first aid may include:
Having the person lie down in the shade or where it is cool
Applying cool, wet cloths to the person’s skin
Using a fan to lower the body temperature
Placing cold compresses on the person’s neck, groin, and armpits
Prevention of heat-related emergencies can be accomplished by:
Drinking plenty of fluids especially before any strenuous activity
Seeking shade whenever possible
Avoiding outside strenuous activity during hot or humid weather
Wearing loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in hot weather
Wearing wide-brimmed hats
Avoiding enclosed spaces that have no ventilation.
Call 911 immediately if you suspect a heat-related illness.
- Information from Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department.