What is Heatstroke – Avoid and Treat

Heatstroke is no light matter. It is a very serious condition and needs to be treated as such. The following tips are intended to help you recognize the symptoms of heatstroke, prevent it from occurring, and how to treat it while you are waiting for professional medical assistance.

1. Know the Signs

How do you know if your child has heat stroke? Here are some of the signs unique to this condition.

* Despite time spent in the hot sun, your child is not sweating very much. This is because, when heatstroke occurs, the body’s ability to cool itself is compromised. Sweating is the primary way for our bodies to cool down.

* Your child does not answer you when you call his or her name. Although your child may not seem unconscious, he or she seems disengaged and detached.

* Unconsciousness can occur if the heatstroke is severe.

* The skin is blotchy.

* If your child’s temperature is over 104, it’s probably a case of heatstroke. It’s a good idea to keep a thermometer on hand during the summer months to check for this.

2. Prevention

Here are some tips for preventing heatstroke.

* Air conditioning is one of the best safeguards against heat stroke. If your child is spending time outdoors when it’s really hot and sunny, take periodic breaks in an air-conditioned building or vehicle.

* Stay hydrated with cool liquids. It’s important that the liquid be as cold as possible to keep internal body temperature down. Travel with an ice-filled cooler or take along portable chilling blocks to keep drinks cold.

* Never leave a child in a car in the spring or summer, even with windows down.

* Watch for any signs of discomfort or uncharacteristic behavior and get the child out of the sun immediately.

* Sunscreen does not protect against heatstroke; your child is still in the sun and heat even with sunscreen or sunblock on his or her skin.

3. Treatment

While you are waiting for medical advice and treatment, the following measures can help treat the heatstroke and relieve its severity.

* Get the child to a shady and preferably air-conditioned area as soon as possible. If you are not near a public building (gas station, library, restaurant, store, mall, etc.), then put your child in an air-conditioned vehicle.

* Remove as much of the child’s clothing as possible.

* Apply cold compresses to the child’s body, such as ice packs or cold washcloths. Spritzing the child with cold water from a spray bottle is also helpful.

* Baking soda and water in a spray bottle is more cooling than plain water.

* Use an electric or manual fan to promote evaporation of the water you’re applying to the child’s skin.

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