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Heat-Related Illness

​​​​​​​​​​​​Heat-related illness occurs when our bodies are unable to cool the body adequately.  Depending on the conditions, the severity of heat-related illness can range from mild to life-threatening.

Why is this important?​​

In a changing climate, extreme weather events become more common. This means that high-temperature events could be hotter, longer, or more frequent in the future.  Given these conditions, understanding how our bodies respond to heat exposure can help us protect ourselves, loved ones, and communities from heat-related illness. 

What is known?​

The most severe form of heat-related illness is heat stroke. This occurs when our cooling systems fail and internal body temperature increases quickly. Symptoms of heat stroke include a high body temperature, skin that is red and hot but dry, a strong rapid pulse, dizziness, nausea, confusion, or unconsciousness. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability. ​If someone is suffering from heat stroke, you should attempt to cool their body temperature and get medical assistance. ​

Heat exhaustion is a more mild form of illness and can be caused by less extreme heat exposure over longer periods of time. Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, and fainting. 

Who is at risk?​

Everyone exposed to high temperatures is at risk of heat related illness, however, age and other factors can increase your risk of suffering a heat-related illness. Infants, children under 4, and adults 65 and older have a higher risk for heat-related illness. Individuals who are overweight or suffering from another illness are also at higher risk. ​

Reduce your risk:

  • Drink plenty of fluids 
  • ​Replace salts and minerals lost through sweat
  • Pace yourself
  • Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen
  • Schedule outdoor activities for cooler times of day
  • Stay cool indoors​​