REMSA Heat Safety Tips

The following advice is supplied by REMSA and REMSA paramedics to help you keep cool and prevent life-threatening heat injury from occurring.

Heat Exhaustion:

• Dizziness, fatigue, faintness, headache
• Skin is pale and clammy
• Pulse becomes rapid and weak
• Breathing is fast and shallow
• Muscle cramps
• Intense thirst


Heat exhaustion is caused by insufficient water intake, insufficient salt intake and deficiency in the production of sweat. (Sweat evaporation is what helps to cool the body.)

Heat Stroke:

• Often preceded by heat exhaustion and its symptoms
• Skin is hot, dry and flushed
• No sweating
• High body temperature
• Rapid heartbeat
• Confusion
• Loss of consciousness


Heat stroke is caused by overexposure to extreme heat and a breakdown in the body’s heat-regulating mechanisms. The body becomes overheated to a dangerous degree. (Body temperature could reach 107˚ F)

Risk Increases With:

• General effects of aging
• Alcohol or other drug abuse
• Chronic illness, such as diabetes and heart condition
• Recent illness involving fluid loss from vomiting or diarrhea
• Hot, humid, weather
• Working in a hot environment
• Loss of body fluids from sweating and failure to drink enough replacement fluids
• Heavy, restrictive clothing
• Severe fever

Prevention Tips:

• Wear light, loose-fitting clothing in hot weather
• Drink water often, don’t wait until thirsty
• During heavy exercise or exertion, the recommended water intake is four 16- 32 ounces of water.
• Drink water if you sweat heavily. If urine output decreases, increase your water intake.
• If you become overheated, improve your ventilation. Open a window or use a fan or air conditioner. This promotes sweat evaporation, which cools the skin.
• Acclimate yourself to hot weather.
• Don’t leave pets or children unattended in hot vehicles at any time during hot weather.
• On an 85 degree day, the temperature inside your car, even with the windows open a bit, will climb to 102 degrees in 10 minutes! After half an hour, it will go up to 120 degrees or even higher! On a 90 degree day, temps in that car can top 160 degrees faster than you can walk around the block.

We won't even talk about the back of a pickup truck, "in the fresh air," with no shade. If you really love your dog, leave him at home, in a nice, cool, place, with plenty of fresh water to drink.

NOTE: Information and tips provided by REMSA Paramedics Extended Web Coverage

Tips on Preventing and Managing Heat

  • Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him how much you should drink while the weather is hot.

  • Don’t drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar–these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.

  • Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library–even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.

  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.

  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.

  • Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on:
    • Infants and young children
    • People aged 65 or older
    • People who have a mental illness
    • Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure

  • Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children, of course, need much more frequent watching.

If You Must be Out in the Heat

  • Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.

  • Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Warning: If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage. Remember the warning in the first “tip” (above), too.

  • Try to rest often in shady areas.

  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels).

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention