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Heat Exhaustion, First Aid

Heat exhaustion is the moderate form of heat illness. Heat illness occurs when a person's core body temperature rises above a safe level of the body's internal temperature range. Heat cramps are the earliest sign of heat illness. If precautions to cool off and rehydrate at this point are not made, the more severe stage of heat illness, heat exhaustion, can occur in a rapid progression. The progression from the early stage of heat illness to heat exhaustion and subsequently to heatstroke can be very quick and can result in a potentially life-threatening situation.See the Heat Cramps or Heatstroke texts via the Disease List for information specific to the other stages of heat illness.First Aid GuideUse a combination of the following measures depending on the circumstances and means available:Have the person rest, legs slightly elevated, in a shaded area or cool or air-conditioned building, room, or car. Remove or loosen the person's clothes. Give the person an electrolyte drink, such as Gatorade® or Pedialyte®, or water if not available. Do not give beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol. Note: You can make a salted drink by adding 1 teaspoon of salt to one quart of water. Pour water over the person or spray with a hose. Note: Do not do this if the person is disoriented. Wrap the person in wet cloth, and position a fan toward him/her. Evaporation of water on the skin aids in cooling. Apply cold compresses (eg, to neck, armpits, groin).If possible, take the person's temperature while starting cooling measures and continue to check the temperature every few minutes. Once it has gone down to 100° F, you can discontinue cooling measures, but continue to check the person's temperature every 30 minutes for 3–4 hours to ensure it stays down.

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