First Aid for Heat Stroke Due to Extreme Summer Weather


Woman carrying an electric fan


Circulatory problems, sunstroke, and heat stroke: In increasingly extreme weather conditions, small and large emergencies occur more frequently. We will show you how to provide first aid and take preventive measures in midsummer like first aid courses for accidents at work.

What happens in the body when there is heat?

When it’s hot outside, our body tries to compensate for the rise in temperature. Blood vessels dilate, and sweat production is stimulated – so the body tries to cool itself. If it is too warm and the heat lasts too long, this self-regulation mechanism does not always work reliably. We lose fluid and salts through sweat production, and blood pressure drops. It can lead to circulatory problems.

First aid for circulatory problems

Circulatory problems are annoying, but not uncommon in heat and usually not dangerous. They occur especially when we have drunk too little or spent too long in the direct sun. In the case of mild circulatory problems (such as dizziness, headaches, and malaise), the affected person should first be taken out of the sun. If there is a threat of fainting, the person should be put in shock. This means: in a supine position with raised feet (approximately at beer crate height). Now it is definitely important to drink enough – ideally water.

Why shouldn’t drinks be too cold?

Although it may be tempting to grab an ice-cold drink, if it’s hot outside, the drinks shouldn’t be too cold. It is best if they are at room temperature. If the temperature difference is too large, the body must compensate for it. This puts a strain on it and leads to increased sweat production, which should now be avoided.


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What is the difference between sunstroke and heatstroke?

If we, especially our head and neck, are exposed to too much heat, sunstroke or even heat stroke can occur. Due to the build-up of heat, especially in the head, the vessels dilate, and the meninges are stressed. There is a headache, dizziness, nausea, and an increased pulse. These are the most common consequences of sunstroke.

The situation becomes more dramatic when heat stroke (also called hyperthermia syndrome) develops. The body’s regulatory system fails, and the temperature rises to more than 40 degrees Celsius. The production of sweat is disturbed, and the body can no longer cool down. This situation, which usually arises after greater exertion in too much heat, is life-threatening.

First aid for sunstroke and heat stroke?

First of all, it is important to distinguish between sunstroke and heat stroke. In the case of the latter, the rescue service must be notified immediately on 112. The clearest distinguishing criterion is the sharp rise in temperature accompanied by a bright red head, clouding of consciousness, possibly chills, and a stiff neck. Basically, however, it is better to call the rescue service once too much than too little.

The main aid measures:

  • If the emergency services are informed (or if it is a sunstroke), it is important to take the person to a cool, shady place or to help them reach it.
  • Thick clothing should be taken off or at least unbuttoned – otherwise, it promotes overheating even further.
  • With cool, but not ice-cold water, you can then gently cool the person down by letting the water flow onto the chest. You do that until the emergency services arrive. If this is not possible on site or it is not necessary, it helps the person concerned to put a damp cloth on the neck.