Prevent and Treat
Heat Stroke and Heat Stress

outdoor shade can prevent heat stroke

Do you know you can help prevent and treat heat stroke and heat stress with outdoor cooling?

We usually think of keeping cool outdoors as a matter of comfort, even luxury, and forget the importance of being cool to health and safety. But getting overheated can cause heat stress — heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and even heat stroke.

When heat stress occurs, the most important thing to do is to cool down the body. Outdoor cooling can help prevent these effects of the heat in the first place by offering a cool place to rest and escape the heat.

Any outdoor cooling solution will help. Simple outdoor shades are great because the shade actually gets you out of the source of heat — the sun. Outdoor fans can help cool our bodies, especially when combined with shade and / or misting systems.

When the more serious stages of a heat illness strike, you'll want the extra cooling power of a portable air conditioner. In fact, air conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Important Ways to PREVENT Heat Stress:

Athletes rest in shade and drink water to prevent heat stroke
  • Drink plenty of cool non-alcoholic and non-caffeine liquids. Drinks with caffeine and alcohol work against cooling the body because they actually dehydrate us.
  • Slow down. Find a cool spot to take regular breaks. If you start to feel weak or nauseous take a break. Spray some cool water on your skin or apply cool wet cloths to your skin.

Young children, those over 65, and those who are ill or overweight are the most at risk for heat stroke and heat stress. Keep an eye especially on them for these signs of heat-related illnesses.

Signs to Look For and How to Treat Them

Muscle cramps are one of the first stages of heat stress.

  • Get that person to a cool spot.
  • Gently stretch and massage the cramped muscles and have them sip some cool water.
  • If they start feeling better it's ok to go back to what they were doing, but be more careful to take those cooling breaks and drink plenty of water.

The signs of heat exhaustion, a more serious stage of heat stress, include headache, dizziness, nausea and moist, pale skin.

  • Get the person to a cooler place right away and have them rest for awhile.
  • Have them sip slowly on some cool water -- about half a glass every 15 minutes. Apply cool, wet cloths to the skin.
  • No one should be alone when they feel like this. You may need to call 911 or a local emergency number in case they vomit or lose consciousness.

The worst stage of heat stress is called heat stroke, sun stroke or "sunstroke". It is life-threatening. It can strike anyone suddenly. From athletes, to construction workers, to home gardeners to someone simply walking in the park.

  • Signs include vomiting, high body temperature, rapid pulse and rapid shallow breathing. A high body temperature may be accompanied by hot, red skin. Most dangerous, especially if alone, is decreased alertness, confusion or loss of consciousness.
  • Call 911 or a local emergency number immediately if you have or if you see anyone with these symptoms of heat stroke. Move them to a cooler place and cool them down quickly. Get them to a shady area or cool then with fans. Better still, get them quickly to an air conditioned area if possible.
  • In the meantime apply cool -- not cold -- cloths directly to the skin to lower the body's temperature. Cold water, cold cloths or cold packs can cause shivering which raises body temperature and is the opposite of what you're trying to do. Have them lie down and rest and keep them cool until help comes.

Keep any eye on those you care about. Give them something cool to drink. Give them a cool place to rest and relax.

You can be assured the cool place you create will be valuable for health as well as comfort.

For more information, go to the official Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This link takes you directly to their page on heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of your physician.

Interested in learning even more?

  • To compare outdoor fans to other outdoor cooling solutions, visit our comparison page.

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