7 Ways to Prevent Heat Stroke During a Heat Advisory

July 15, 2020 - Katie McCallum

During the summer, every day probably feels like a scorcher. During a heat advisory, however, the heat can literally become one — posing a threat to your life.

Heat stroke occurs when a person's body overheats as a result of exposure to hot weather. It's a serious condition that can damage the brain and other vital organs — making heat stroke an emergency that requires immediate medical attention.

In most cases, heat stroke results from exercising outside in the heat without proper hydration. But, when it's really hot outside, a person doesn't even have to be exercising to develop heat stroke.

Staying safe in the heat is always important. During a heat wave, taking heat safety and heat stroke seriously are more important than ever.

Here are 7 ways to prevent heat stroke when it's unbearably hot outside:

Avoid becoming dehydrated

Staying properly hydrated can help your body regulate its temperature.

If you need to be outdoors, plan to leave your house already well-hydrated. This doesn't mean just chugging a bunch of water before going outside, by the way — it means staying hydrated throughout the day. You'll also need to plan ways to maintain your hydration while in the heat.

Know that a parked car can be deadly

The temperature outside is hot, but the temperature in a parked car is even hotter.

It only takes 10 minutes for the temperature of a car parked in the sun to increase by 20 degrees. Avoid being in a hot car, and never leave children or animals in a parked car — even if your car is in the shade with the windows cracked.

Dress for the heat

Tight-fitting clothes or layers of clothing can both hinder the ease that sweat evaporates from your body — an important step in releasing excess body heat.

For extra protection from the sun that doesn't increase your chance of overheating, consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat and lathering on plenty of sweat-resistant sunscreen.

Seek air conditioning or shade as often as possible

While we're all eager to head outdoors as a safe way to get out of the house during the COVID-19 pandemic, it's probably best to limit the time you spend outdoors during a heat advisory.

If you work outdoors, be sure to take frequent breaks that include time to rehydrate and cool down in the shade.

Exercise indoors or early in the morning

Strenuous activity can make it even easier to overheat on a hot day, so you may want to consider swapping your outdoor workouts for indoor ones.

And when a heat advisory and pandemic overlap, the safest place to exercise indoors is in your home.

If you can't exercise at home, set your alarm and plan for an early morning outdoor workout. While you may be tempted into thinking that an evening run may be safe, know that the evenings often don't cool down as much as you'd expect during a heat wave.

Rethink those outdoor day-drinking plans

Alcohol does more than impair your motor skills and judgement, it can also impair your body's ability to regulate your temperature.

During a heat advisory, it's best to limit the amount of alcohol you drink while in the heat.

Protect yourself from sunburn

In addition to increasing your risk of developing skin cancer, a sunburn can limit your body's ability to cool you down.

This means it's important to apply plenty of sweat-resistant sunscreen before heading outdoors — even if you plan to be submersed in water all afternoon. And remember, sunscreen wears off, so you'll need to reapply your sunscreen regularly.

Call 911 immediately if you notice signs of heat stroke

The most common symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • A body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, as measured by a rectal thermometer
  • Sudden confusion or hallucinations
  • Difficulty walking
  • Seizures
  • Fainting


In addition, people suffering heat stroke may also experience racing heart rate, rapid breathing, overly warm skin or skin redness, vomiting or diarrhea, muscle cramps and weakness, and throbbing headaches.

If you or someone you love is showing signs of heat stroke, call 911 immediately.

While you may be concerned about visiting the emergency room during COVID-19, rest assured that emergency rooms are safe — taking every precaution to protect your health during this pandemic.

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Categories: Tips to Live By
Tags: Wellness