Tips for preventing and treating heat exhaustion and heatstroke

June 25th, 2013 | by Erin Hebert | Comments

With temperatures expected to reach near-record highs this weekend, Coachella Valley residents and visitors should be making extra preparations to stay cool and hydrated — including looking for signs of possible heat illnesses and ways to prevent them.

The U. S. National Library of Medicine suggests several prevention options for heat illnesses, including wearing loose, lightweight clothing, resting frequently and seeking shade, avoiding strenuous activity and drinking plenty of fluids, among others.

Those in the Coachella Valley can also take shelter in any of the area’s cooling centers, listed here.

The temperature in Palm Springs is seen on an iPhone on August 8, 2012.  (Richard Lui/The Desert Sun)

The temperature in Palm Springs is seen on an iPhone on August 8, 2012.
(Richard Lui/The Desert Sun)

According to the NLM, there are three categories of heat emergencies: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Heat cramps, which are caused by a loss of salt from heavy sweating, fall under the least severe category of the three. Early symptoms include profuse sweating, fatigue, thirst and muscle cramps.

Dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion, the next level of heat illnesses. Be on the lookout for headaches, dizziness and lightheadedness, weakness, nausea and vomiting, cool and moist skin and dark urine.

Heatstroke is the most severe of all heat emergencies, and can lead to shock, brain damage, organ failure and death. Symptoms include high fever; irrational behavior; extreme confusion; dry, hot and red skin; rapid, shallow breathing; rapid, weak pulse; seizures and unconsciousness. NLM suggests calling 911 if you notice any symptoms of heatstroke.

If you think you or someone you know is experiencing a heat emergency, click here to read the National Library of Medicine’s first aid tips.

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