CPR Refresher Step 6: Identify and Treat Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a serious condition. Each year extreme heat causes more deaths than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes combined. During the hot summer months it’s important to know how to recognize and react to the signs of heat exhaustion in yourself and others.

Signs and Indications of Heat Exhaustion

If you notice the signs of heat exhaustion take the appropriate actions and start to cool them down immediately.

  • Muscle cramping
  • Pale skin tone
  • Confusion, uncertainty
  • Lightheadedness and loss of balance
  • Rapid and shallow breathing
  • Unexpected and abrupt fatigue
  • Feeling nauseous
  • An increase in body temperature
  • Sticky, damp skin
  • Extreme sweating

Treating Heat Exhaustion

Focus on re-hydrating and cooling the victim in a controlled manner while monitoring for normal cardiac behavior. Move the victim to a shaded area and stop any strenuous activity. Apply cool water and loosen or remove clothing. Give the person cool fluids (avoid anything caffeinated). Sports beverages are recommended to replace electrolytes. If the victim is unable to keep fluids down seek medical assistance (call 911) so a professional can administer an IV.

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