How to Diagnose and Treat Heat Exhaustion Before it Develops into Heat Stroke

We all love summer – full of BBQs and garden parties, Pimms and G&Ts, festivals and seaside holidays.  However, if we’re not careful, it can also be full of sunburn, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke.

Don’t panic, though.  It’s easy to enjoy the summer if you remember a few simple things, as prevention is always better than cure:

  • Sunburn hurts – so slap on the sunblock and slip on a hat
  • Beer doesn’t count as rehydration (sad, but true!)
  • Look out for any signs of heat exhaustion and treat before it develops into life-threatening heat stroke (see below).

Heat Exhaustion or Heat Stroke?

Look out for the signs and symptoms of Heat Exhaustion and please catch it before it develops into the more serious Heat Stroke which can result in unconsciousness.

If you have a headache, feel thirsty, excessive sweating, high temperature, nausea, muscle cramps or lethargy, then you have Heat Exhaustion. Immediately move to a cool place, drink plenty of water, lie down and cool with a fan and/or wet sponges around the armpits, neck and groin.  You should be back to normal within 30 minutes.

Prevention is always better than cure so:

  • Aim to drink between 2 and 5 litres of water per day (more if another type of drink but avoid alcohol and caffeine), depending on your level of exercise
  • cool down with baths, showers or get the paddling pool out
  • wear light-coloured, loose clothing
  • sprinkle water over skin or clothes
  • avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm

Keep a more careful eye on children, the elderly and people with chronic health conditions (e.g. diabetes or heart problems) as they are more prone to heat illnesses.

The easiest way to tell if you are hydrated is the colour of your pee (unless you are having a wild one). So choose your favourite from prosecco / chardonnay / champagne and aim for that shade! If it’s any darker than that you’re getting dehydrated.


Louise Worsley

Worsley Training First Aid Courses

Click here for details of upcoming first aid courses:

Friday 30th August
Mini Life-Savers for 5-9 yr olds
Teen-Aiders for 10-14 yr olds

Wednesday 18th September
Basic Life Support including defibrillator training
Emergency First Aid at Work

Two day Outdoor Paediatric course for Forest School practitioners
Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th September
At the Organic Forest Kindergarten in Rushall


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