Be prepared for the summer heat!
We are in for a treat this year! This summer is set to be the hottest in years for Scotland. Many of us are not used to such regular warm weather, so we have put together a blog to treat three common heat related conditions: dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
When fluids are lost from the body and not replaced, you can become dehydrated. Dehydration is mainly the result of excess sweating, prolonged exposure to hot/humid conditions, or through loss of fluids from vomiting or diarrhoea. If untreated, dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion.
To help treat dehydration make sure to give the casualty plenty of fluids to drink. Water is usually sufficient but oral rehydration solutions (such as an isotonic or sports drink) can help with salt replacement. If the casualty is suffering from cramp, help them by stretching and massaging the muscles. Monitor the casualty as they rehydrate themselves. If the condition worsens, seek medical advice.
Heat exhaustion is caused by a loss of salt and water from the body. It often happens gradually and usually affects people who are not acclimatised to hot and humid conditions. This condition can be recognised by:
- Headaches, dizziness and confusion
- Loss of appetite and nausea
- Sweating with pale, clammy skin
- Cramps in the arms, legs or abdomen
- Rapid, weakening pulse and breathing
To help the casualty, take them to a cool, shady place and encourage them to lie down and raise and support the legs. Give them plenty of water (or an isotonic drink) and monitor vital signs. If signs worsen, call 999/112 for emergency help.
Heatstroke is caused by a failure of the ‘thermostat’ in the brain, which regulates the body’s temperature. This causes the body to become dangerously overheated and can develop with very little warning.
This condition can be recognised by:
- Headaches, dizziness and discomfort
- Restlessness and confusion
- Hot, flushed and dry skin
- Rapid deterioration in the level of response
- Full bounding pulse
- Body temperature above 40°C
If you suspect the casualty is suffering from heatstroke, call 999/112 for emergency help. Move the casualty to a cool place, sit them down and remove as much outer clothing as possible. Wrap them in a cold, wet sheet until body temperature drops to 38°C under the armpit. Keep the sheet wet by continuing to pour cold water over it. Alternatively, you can fan the casualty or sponge them with cold water. If the casualty’s temperature returns to normal, replace the wet sheet with a dry one. Continue to monitor vital signs (level of response, temperature, pulse and breathing) until help arrives.
Make sure you get outside and make the most of the lovely weather! But remember, stay hydrated!