Step 1: Identify the Signs of Heat Stroke
There are a combination of clear signs that can indicate the onset of heat stroke. Once familiar with the following symptoms, it is much easier to detect the condition.
Symptoms of exertional heat stroke include:
• Dehydration, dry mouth and/or thirst
• Altered consciousness, seizures, confusion, emotional instability, irrational behavior, decreased mental acuity or combativeness
• Seeming bored or disinterested
• Headache dizziness or weakness
• Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
• Hot and wet or dry skin
• Excessive fatigue such as not being able to run as fast or play as well
• Increase in core body temperature, usually above 104 °F
• Increased heart rate, decreased blood pressure or fast breathing
Steps 2 and 3: Cool Then Transport
Cool first, transport second, if there is appropriate medical staff or an athletic trainer on site. The old way of thinking was to get to the hospital first without trying to cool the patient. But waiting for an ambulance could cause 40 minutes to elapse before the patient is finally aggressively cooled.
Please note, the goal for any exertional heat stroke victim is to lower core body temperature to less than 102.5 °F within 30 minutes of collapse.
Step 4: Prevent Heat Stroke
Exertional heat illnesses are largely preventable during sports practices when appropriate protocols are put into place. Water immersion cools the fastest. Therefore, sports teams or anywhere someone is at risk for heat stroke, should have a cooling tub on site to start the cooling process immediately.
Other preventative measures include:
● Heat acclimatization
● Body cooling
● Modifying exercise based on environmental conditions
New Exertional Heat Stroke Guidelines: Cool First, Transport Second, By Megan Brooks, June 30, 2014
How to Recognize, Prevent & Treat Exertional Heat Illnesses, National Athletic Trainers' Association, NATA.org, 2014