Heat Cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are conditions caused by overexposure to heat.
a. Heat cramps. Heat cramps are the LEAST severe, and often are the first signals that the body is having trouble with the heat. Heat cramps are painful muscle spasms.They usually occur in the legs and abdomen. Think of them as a warning of a possible heat related emergency.
To care for heat cramps, have the player rest in a cool place. Give cool water or a commercial sport drink. Usually, rest and fluids are all the person needs to recover. Lightly stretch the muscle and gently massage the area. The player should not take salt tablets or salt water. They can make the situation worse.
When the cramps stop, the player can usually start activity again, if there are no other signs of illness. The player should keep drinking plenty of fluids. Watch the player carefully for further signals of heat-related illness.
b. Heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is a more severe condition than heat cramps. It often affects athletes, fire fighters, construction workers, and factory workers, as well as those who wear heavy clothing in a hot, humid environment. Its signals include cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, and exhaustion.
c. Heat stroke. Heat stroke is the least common but the MOST severe heat emergency. It most often occurs when people ignore the signals of heat exhaustion. Heat stroke develops when the body systems are overwhelmed by heat and begin to stop functioning. Heat stroke is a serious medical emergency. The signals of heat stroke include red, hot dry skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. when you recognize heat-related illness in its early stages; you can usually reverse it.
- Get the player out of the heat.
- Loosen any tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths, such as towels or sheets.
- If the player is conscious, give cool water to drink. Do not let the conscious player drink too quickly. Give about one glass (4 ounces) of water every 15 minutes.
- Let the victim rest in a comfortable position, and watch carefully for changes in his or her condition. The victim should not resume normal activities the same day.
Refusing water, vomiting, and changes in consciousness means that the player’s condition is getting worse. Call for an ambulance immediately if you have not already done so. If the player vomits, stop giving fluids and position the player on the side. Watch for signals of breathing problems. Keep the player lying down and continue to cool the body anyway you can. If you have ice packs or cold packs, place them on each of the victim’s wrists and ankles, on the groin, in each armpit, and on the neck to cool the large blood vessels. DO NOT APPLY RUBBING ALCOHOL. (American Red Cross – Community First Aid & Safety)