Mississippi State Department of Health

Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke


High summer temperatures bring the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, especially if you are out of doors. If you are working or exercising in the heat, or if you are an older Mississippian, know the signs of heat stroke and what to do about it.

Protecting Yourself

Basic steps can keep children and adults safer in times of high heat and humidity.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after long exposure to high temperatures and inadequate water. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are elderly people, people with high blood pressure, and people working or exercising in a hot environment.

Recognizing Heat Exhaustion

Warning signs of heat exhaustion include the following:

The skin may be cool and moist. The victim's pulse rate will be fast and weak, and breathing will be fast and shallow. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may progress to heat stroke.

Seek medical attention immediately if any of the following occurs:

  • Symptoms are severe
  • The victim has heart problems or high blood pressure

Otherwise, help the victim to cool off, and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or last longer than 1 hour.

If Heat Exhaustion Happens

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke occurs when the body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106 degrees or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.

Warning Signs of Heat Stroke

Warning signs of heat stroke vary but may include the following:

If Heat Stroke Happens

Sometimes a victim's muscles will begin to twitch uncontrollably as a result of heat stroke. If this happens, keep the victim from injuring himself, but do not place any object in the mouth and do not give fluids. If there is vomiting, make sure the airway remains open by turning the victim on his or her side.

Special Hazard: Kids in Hot Cars

A child left in a hot car can die of heat stroke in minutes. It's essential that parents and caregivers take precautions to remember children who could be left in a vehicle, and to practice them each time they travel.

Over 65?

Protection against sun and heat is even more important for older Mississippians. Drink plenty of fluids, and if your home doesn't stay cool enough, be sure to spend time in air-conditioned places in the heat of the day.

Links referenced on this page
More about heat safety: Extreme Heat Guide from the CDC    https://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heat_guide.asp
Tips to Prevent Child Deaths in Hot Cars    https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/Prevent-Child-Deaths-in-Hot-Cars.aspx
More about heat-related risks for those 65 and over    https://www.cdc.gov/extreme-heat/risk-factors/extreme-heat-and-older-adults-aged-65.html

Find this page at https://msdh.ms.gov/page/43,3942,98,261.html

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