With temperatures soaring across Manchester today, St John Ambulance, the nation’s leading first aid charity has issued some simple, but life saving, first aid tips to deal with heat exhaustion and heatstroke:
Heat exhaustion is caused by the loss of water and salt from the body through excessive sweating. It usually develops gradually and often affects people who are not used to hot and humid conditions. Heatstroke is caused by a failure in the thermostat in the brain that regulates body temperature.
The body can become dangerously overheated, usually due to prolonged exposure to heat or a high fever. In some cases, heatstroke can follow heat exhaustion when sweating ceases and the body isn’t cooled by the evaporation of sweat. Heatstroke can develop very quickly with little warning and can cause unconsciousness within minutes of the casualty feeling unwell.
Follow these simple steps to recognise these conditions and to help:
• A casualty with heat exhaustion may become dizzy and confused, have a headache, loss of appetite and nausea. They may complain of cramps in the arms, legs or abdomen and may be seating with pale, clammy skin and their pulse and breathing may become rapid
• Help the casualty to a cool place out of the sun, preferably indoors
• Lay the casualty down and raise and support their legs
• Provide plenty of water to drink and, if available use re-hydration salts or isotonic sports drinks to help with salt replacement
• Even if the casualty recovers quickly, advise them to seek medical help
• If the casualty’s breathing and response worsens call 999/112 for medical help.
• Symptoms of heatstroke can include a headache, dizziness, restlessness, confusion and discomfort. The casualty might be flushed with hot, dry skin, have a bounding pulse and a high temperature, above 40°C(104°F)
• Help the casualty to a cool place and remove their outer clothing
• Call 999/112 for emergency help
• Wrap the casualty in a cold, wet sheet and keep the sheet wet until the temperature returns to normal
• Once the temperature returns to normal, replace the wet sheet with a dry one
• Monitor vital signs, level of response, breathing, pulse and temperature until medical help arrives. If the temperature rises again, repeat the cooling process.
For those looking for quick, easily accessible first aid information, the St John Ambulance app is available free on smartphones and the website (www.sja.org.uk) offers demo videos, an interactive game, and lots of free advice. For more information about first aid courses please call 08700 10 49 50