Beat the Heat!

Laura Mitchell's picture
By Laura Mitchell on July 19, 2019

One of the most common issues we all can face in a heatwave is a heat-related illness.

Your body has a natural cooling system that is always working to maintain a safe temperature. Sweating helps your body cool down, but when you are exposed to high temperatures and the sun for a long time—working or exercising outdoors, for example—your cooling system has to work harder.

In that situation, your body sends more blood to your skin—and away from your muscles, brain and other organs. That can lead to a heat illness.

Heat-related illnesses can range from mild heat cramps to heat exhaustion to potentially life-threatening heatstroke.

If you think someone might be experiencing heatstroke, call 911 right away.

Heatstroke occurs when the body is no longer able to regulate its temperature and it keeps rising. Heatstroke can cause: 

  • Shock
  • Brain damage
  • Organ failure
  • Death

If you think someone is experiencing heatstroke, call 911 right away.

“The main things to remember are to avoid the hottest hours of the day, typically from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” says Karen Kuehl, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital and a wilderness medicine expert. "Make sure everyone has adequate hydration, especially children and older adults; and know the signs of heat-related illnesses."

And don’t forget your pets! They need the same care and comforts people do on hot days. 

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke from the National Weather Service:

infographic from National Weather Service showing symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke