Knowing the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke as we approach the summer months

Knowing the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke as we approach the summer months

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - As we continue to break high temperature records in the region, we know it’s important to take care of ourselves, but it’s also important to know the signs and differences when it comes to heat exhaustion versus heat stroke.

Heat Exhaustion symptoms

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale, clammy skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Excessive thirst

Johmachiel James with the Wilmington Fire Department says there are things you can do to keep yourself from getting heat exhausted.

“Keep something over your head, keep yourself cooler," said James. “Keep in mind when you’re outside where a hat; it keeps you a couple degrees cooler. Take breaks, try to work in the shade if possible. Things like that will help you stay cool and stay away from heat exhaustion.”

Some other things you can do if you’re experiencing heat exhaustion: hydrate, move to a cooler place, lie down, sip water, take a cool shower or use a cool compress, remove tight fitting clothes. Overall, act quickly. Untreated heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke.

Heat stroke symptoms

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • May lose consciousness
  • No sweating
  • Hot, red skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Body temperature above 140 degrees Fahrenheit

James says both are very serious, but heat stroke can be deadly.

“Once you get into that area, you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible,” said James.

Call 911, move the person to a cooler place, use cold compresses to help reduce body temperature, and do not give fluids.

With temperatures soaring close to 100 degrees the next few days, make sure you know how to avoid, recognize and treat heat stroke! Download our First Alert weather app for live, continuous updates from our weather team. (source: Fox Wilmington Facebook)
With temperatures soaring close to 100 degrees the next few days, make sure you know how to avoid, recognize and treat heat stroke! Download our First Alert weather app for live, continuous updates from our weather team. (source: Fox Wilmington Facebook)

Children should also be at top of mind during this heat.

“Their [children] body temperatures actually rise three times, three-to-five times faster than adult," said Julia Phelps with the New Hanover County Health Department. "They also don’t sweat the same way that adults do so they become very, very vulnerable in the summertime.”

You can avoid heat stroke-related injury and death by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute.

So far this year, nine children have died across the United States in hot cars.

Create reminders in your car so you don’t risk leaving the little on behind. The Wilmington Police Department is giving away hang-tags to use a reminders this summer.

Heat safety practices. (source: National Weather Service)
Heat safety practices. (source: National Weather Service)

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