Heat Emergencies


Heat emergencies fall into three categories of increasing severity: Heat Cramps, Heat Exhaustion, and Heatstroke.

Heat emergencies are easily preventable by taking precautions in hot weather. Children, elderly, and obese people have a higher risk of developing heat illness. People taking certain medications or drinking alcohol also have a higher risk. Heatstroke, the most serious of the three, can cause shock, brain damage, organ failure, and even death.

Signs and Symptoms

Heat cramps

  • Sweating
  • Pain in arms, legs, and abdomen

Heat exhaustion

  • Moist, pale skin
  • Fatigue and fainting
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Headache and confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid pulse and breathing

Heat stroke

  • No sweating
  • Dry, hot, red skin
  • Confusion and loss of consciousness
  • Rapid pulse
  • Temperature over 103º F
  • Seizures

What causes heat emergencies?

  • High temperatures or humidity
  • Dehydration
  • Prolonged or excessive exercise
  • Excess clothing
  • Alcohol use
  • Medications, such as diuretics, neuroleptics, phenothiazines, and anticholinergics
  • Cardiovascular disease