Friday, June 29, 2007

What are the symptoms of heat exhaustion?

Who's asking: Me and others in New England

The good news is that the heat wave has broken, and today is a gorgeous 60F.

Last night, though, one of our Lucky Stiff cast members collapsed with heat exhaustion during the show. She is fine, because another of our cast members is a registered nurse (hurrah for community theater!) and recognized what was happening.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke happen when the body loses its ability to regulate its core temperature. An average of 371 people a year died of heat stroke in the United States between 1979 and 1997. This number spiked during extreme heat waves; heat killed 1,700 people during the record-breaking summer of 1980.

As with hypothermia, the body tries to cope with temperature extremes by overcompensating, then loses the battle unless someone intervenes. People suffering from heat exhaustion often feel cold and clammy to the touch; they may shiver, and they sweat a lot.

Headaches, dizziness and nausea set in as heat exhaustion turns into something more serious. As the body loses its battle against the heat, the victim's temperature starts to rise, and the skin becomes hot and dry. Heat stroke victims get confused and disoriented, and may even start to hallucinate.

While heat exhaustion needs speedy attention -- in the form of water, salts, shade and cooler clothing -- heat stroke is an emergency. It is essential to lower the victim's body temperature: get them into the shade, remove clothing, give water, bathe the victim in cool water and fan them to speed evaporation.

Here in Maine we are back to The Way Life Should Be, with high temperatures in the 70s for the week ahead.

What I Read This Week

Nothing. I'm at various points in four different client manuscripts (if you're waiting for something from me, look for it this afternoon or tomorrow -- and please forgive the delay). I set aside a book by an author whose works I usually enjoy, because it felt tedious. That probably says more about my own frame of mind than the book.

No comments: