Red Cross: How to treat heat-related illnesses - KPTV - FOX 12

Red Cross: How to treat heat-related illnesses

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As the temperature rises during this Portland heat wave, people need to make sure they’re watching for heat-related conditions. 

The American Red Cross has these tips to recognize and respond to heat-related illnesses:

Heat cramps 

Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually happen in the legs or abdomen. They're often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat.

  • Get the person to a cooler place and have them rest in a comfortable position. 
  • Lightly stretch the affected muscle, and gently massage the affected area. 
  • Give the person fluid that contains electrolytes, such as a sports drink, juice or milk. Water can also be given. 

Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is more severe than heat cramps. The signs include cool, moist, pale, ashen or flushed skin as well as headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness and exhaustion. 

  • Move the person to a cooler place.
  • Remove or loosen as much clothing as possible and apply cool, wet cloths to the person’s skin. 
  • Fan the person or spray them with water. 
  • If they're conscious, give them small amounts of a cool fluid to drink, such as a sports drink, juice, milk, or water. Give them about 4 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes.
  • Watch for changes in their condition. 
  • If the person refuses water, starts to lose consciousness or vomits, call 911. 

Heat stroke 

Heat stroke is life-threatening and usually occurs by ignoring the signals of heat exhaustion. The signs include extremely high body temperature; red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness, rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing; confusion; vomiting and seizures. 

  • Call 911 immediately. 
  • Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to the neck in cold water if possible, or douse and spray them with cold water. 
  • Sponge the person with ice-doused towels over their entire body, frequently rotating towels. 
  • Cover them with bags of ice. 
  • Apply rapid cooling methods for 20 minutes or until the person's condition improves.

For more information on heat-related illnesses, download the American Red Cross’ Heat Wave Safety Checklist.  

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