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Sun safety and symptoms of heat stroke

There is hidden danger in the summer sun: know the warning signs of heat exhaustion
There is hidden danger in the summer sun: know the warning signs of heat exhaustion
Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

Though there are many fun things to do during summer, it can be a deadly season if you don’t practice good sun safety. Getting overheated can be more than just an inconvenience or a common joke amongst friends. Heat stroke can actually be fatal. Therefore, it’s important to know the symptoms of heat stroke and when to call a doctor.

If you’ve been exposed to the sun and you develop a throbbing headache, begin to feel dizzy or nauseous, have a fast pulse, become feverish, feel confused, or stop perspiring, you are in immediate danger. All of these are symptoms of heat stroke and are indications that you should see a doctor immediately, even if it means calling an ambulance.

If you should begin to vomit or experience involuntary muscle twitching while waiting for medical help to arrive, it’s natural to think you need water. However, drinking fluids at this point can cause more harm. Do not drink! Rather, slip into a cool, shallow pool or bathtub, sit in the stream of a sprinkler, or lie in the shade to try to cool down your body.

You can avoid heat stroke by looking for the early warning signs. While enjoying summer activities, if you begin to feel fatigued, get a slight headache that is accompanied by a fast pulse, heavy perspiration or nausea, you should know that you may be on your way to becoming dehydrated. You are in the early stages of heat stroke, called heat exhaustion. At this point, you’ll want to get out of the sun and consume water or another non-alcoholic, sugar-free drink until symptoms are alleviated.

Not everyone experiences heat exhaustion, but anyone of any age can. Practicing good sun safety will help you avoid becoming sick from the heat. When outdoors for extended periods of time such as attending summer festivals, swimming, or playing sports, be sure to drink plenty of non-alcoholic beverages, wear loose fitting clothing that allows your skin to breathe and feel any breeze, eat light meals more frequently rather than one heavy meal, wear sunscreen and a wide brim hat, and take 15 minutes breaks out of the direct sun throughout the day.