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How Do I Give First Aid for Heat Stroke?

By Amanda R. Bell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Heat stroke is a serious, potentially fatal condition that requires medical attention as soon as possible. To give first aid for heat stroke, contact your local emergency department as soon as you notice any signs of this condition. Take the person to a cool location away from the sun and remove any excess clothing. To limit dehydration, help the person to drink small amounts of water if he or she is conscious and able to keep fluids down, and keep the individual as cool as possible while you wait for help.

The most important part of giving first aid for heat stroke is calling for medical help, as the individual suffering from this condition will need to be treated by a doctor at a medical facility. If you notice any symptoms of heat stroke, such as dizziness, fainting, or unusual breathing patterns, call for help before you do anything else. In the event that someone else is there to contact emergency personnel, begin attending to the person while another person makes the call.

This condition is caused by excess heat exposure, so getting a person to a place that is cool is extremely important. If an indoor area with air conditioning is available, that is the ideal choice, although a shaded space outdoors will work if it is all that is available. Even if the individual believes that he or she can walk, you should help to support him or her as you are relocating. In the event that the individual is unconscious, you may need help in moving him or her if he or she is an adult.

Once the person is out of the heat, remove any clothing that is not needed for modesty purposes. This includes socks and shoes, as well as a person’s shirt, although this will vary by culture. Removing any hats when providing first aid for heat stroke can help to cool the body down rapidly, as much of a person’s body heat escapes through his or her head. Although removing some articles of clothing can be extremely beneficial, you should always keep your country’s laws and customs in mind when doing so.

Dehydration is a major concern when providing first aid for heat stroke. If possible, give the person water to drink. Do not attempt this step if a person is unconscious, as it will likely cause him or her to choke. If the individual is vomiting or cannot keep the liquid down, do not force it. Vomiting can make the dehydration worse, increasing the danger of heat stroke.

As you’re waiting for medial help, keep the person as cool as possible to prevent his or her body heat from rising any further. Cold wash cloths or rags can be used as a compress over the head and to cool down a person’s arms and legs. Ice packs, when applied to the arm pits, neck, or behind the knees, can also keep a person’s body temperature from rising. As you provide first aid for heat stroke, point a fan on the individual, or have someone fan him or her as you wait for help.

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