With only about four weeks left before school starts back, students will most likely be trying to spend as much time having fun and shucking responsibility before having to return to the halls of education.
For some this will mean spending a lot of time outside and despite the chances of relaxing summer rains blowing through, the potential for some common summer health risks are still present.
While a lot of people refer to any form of heat-related illness as having a heatstroke, there are really three levels of heat illness.
According to a presentation to the GHSA by Diane King an athletic trainer for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the three levels of heat illness are heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
While the easiest way to prevent these three heat illnesses and dehydration is to stay hydrated whenever you are outside, it is very easy to forget and find yourself in a dangerous situation. Therefore, being able to identify each level is key to applying first aid.
Heat cramps are muscle spasms often caused by low fluids when heavy exercise is taking place. It affects the arms, legs, stomach and back muscles. Treatments for heat cramps include moving to a cool, shaded place and sipping water or sports drinks.
Energy drinks such as Red Bull should not be substituted and combinations of water and drinks like Gatorade are preferable. If heat cramps go untreated it will develop into heat exhaustion.
Heat exhaustion symptoms include light headiness, nausea and extreme thirst among others. First aid treatment includes laying down with the feet elevated in a shady or air-conditioned place while still drinking small amounts of water. Gulping fluids and taking large sips could make matters worse, so be sure to slowly drink the fluids.
Because heat exhaustion can rapidly turn into heatstroke, calling 911 is always safer then waiting too long.
Heatstroke is noted by dry hot red skin, shallow breathing, a rapid heart beat as well as dizziness, nausea and possibly seizures. Heatstroke victims should have immediate medical care. While waiting on an ambulance or taking them to a hospital, you need to remove any excess clothing from the victim, apply ice towels or ice packs to the neck, head and groin areas and keep a check on the person’s breathing and circulation.
Prevention is the easiest way to stay safe from heat illness. Keeping fluids around whenever you are outside, taking a break every 15 minutes and proper clothing are essential to staying safe in the summer heat.
Diane Kings’ presentation can be found on the GHSA website www.ghsa.net/sportsmedicine.
Justin Poole is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers and can be contacted at email@example.com.