Whether you’re biking, hiking, camping or simply exploring the beauty of the Sonoran Desert, please remember to stay safe out there. Heat exhaustion, which could lead to heatstroke, is something everyone should be aware of when visiting our region.
Heat exhaustion is one of the heat-related syndromes, which range in severity from mild heat cramps to heat exhaustion to potentially life-threatening heatstroke. Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion often begin suddenly, sometimes after excessive exercise, heavy perspiration, and inadequate fluid or salt intake. Signs and symptoms resemble those of shock and may include:
- Feeling faint or dizzy
- Heavy sweating
- Rapid, weak heartbeat
- Low blood pressure
- Cool, moist, pale skin
- Low-grade fever
- Heat cramps
- Dark-colored urine
If you suspect heat exhaustion:
- Get the person out of the sun and into a shady or air-conditioned location.
- Lay the person down and elevate the legs and feet slightly.
- Loosen or remove the person’s clothing.
- Have the person drink cool water or other nonalcoholic beverage without caffeine.
- Cool the person by spraying or sponging with cool water and fanning.
- Monitor the person carefully. Heat exhaustion can quickly become heatstroke.
Call 911 or emergency medical help if the person’s condition deteriorates, especially if fainting, confusion or seizures occur, or if fever of 104 F (40 C) or greater occurs with other symptoms. (source: mayoclinic.com)
How to avoid heat-related illnesses
When you go out in hot weather, keep these precautions in mind:
- Watch the temperature. Pay attention to weather forecasts and heat alerts. Know what the temperature is expected to be for the duration of your planned outdoor activity.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration is a key factor in heat illness. Help your body sweat and cool down by staying well hydrated with water. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. If you’re planning any intense outdoor activity for longer than one hour, consider a sports drink instead of water. Sports drinks can replace the sodium, chloride and potassium you lose through sweating. Avoid alcoholic and caffeineated drinks because they can actually promote fluid loss.
- Dress appropriately. Lightweight, loosefitting clothing helps sweat evaporate and keeps you cooler. Avoid dark colors, which can absorb heat. If possible, wear a light-colored, wide-brimmed hat.
- Avoid midday sun. Go out in the morning or evening, when it’s likely to be cooler outdoors. If possible, stay in shady areas.
- Wear sunscreen. A sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself.
- Have a backup plan. If you’re concerned about the heat or humidity, stay indoors.
- Understand your medical risks. Certain medical conditions or medications can increase your risk of a heat-related illness. If you plan any intense outdoor activity in the heat, talk to your doctor about precautions.
Heat-related illnesses are largely preventable. By taking some basic precautions, you don’t have to be sidelined when the heat is on. (source: mayoclinic.com)