Dangerous heat: Safety starts before you walk outside

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - People living in south Louisiana are not surprised to feel the burn during the summer months, but many often forget that the heat can be dangerous and sometimes deadly.

"If you can avoid going outside in the heat, it's best to do so," said Brad Harris with Baton Rouge EMS. " If you're going to be outside in the heat, it's best to make sure you drink plenty of fluids every 15 to 20 minutes, make sure you're getting some kind of fluids in your body to replenish what you're losing through sweat.

"A lot of the heat-related calls that we go on are people that have been out in the heat too long and they have not properly hydrated," he added. "Typically they are past the point of cramps and now they are more to the point of heat exhaustion to where they are tired, confused, they can't stop shaking, shivering, that sort of thing, so we have to do some type of active cooling to cool them down, typically with ice packs and possibly with an IV if they have to be hydrated that way."

Should the worst happen, you should be prepared by always having your emergency medical information on hand. For those with a smartphone, this can be as easy as editing your Health App information.

"Check on your friends and family while these conditions continue," said GOHSEP Director James Waskom. "If you do have outdoor plans this week or work outside, watch for someone who may be showing symptoms of heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Learn what to do in case you need to provide assistance to someone this summer."

Heat Exhaustion:

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion may develop suddenly or over time, especially with prolonged periods of exercise. Possible heat exhaustion signs and symptoms include:

  • Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat
  • Heavy sweating
  • Faintness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Low blood pressure upon standing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Headache

When to see a doctor

  • If you think you're experiencing heat exhaustion:
    • Stop all activity and rest
    • Move to a cooler place
    • Drink cool water or sports drinks


  • Heatstroke symptoms include:
    • High body temperature. A body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher is the main sign of heatstroke.
    • Altered mental state or behavior. Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma can all result from heatstroke.
    • Alteration in sweating. In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel moist.
    • Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
    • Flushed skin. Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases.
    • Rapid breathing. Your breathing may become rapid and shallow.
    • Racing heart rate. Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.
    • Headache. Your head may throb.

When to see a doctor:

  • If you think a person may be experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help. Call 911 or your local emergency services number.
  • Take immediate action to cool the overheated person while waiting for emergency treatment.
  • Get the person into shade or indoors.
  • Remove excess clothing.
  • Cool the person with whatever means available — put in a cool tub of water or a cool shower, spray with a garden hose, sponge with cool water, fan while misting with cool water, or place ice packs or cold, wet towels on the person's head, neck, armpits and groin.

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