EXTREME HEAT OR COLD

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1 Responsibility Never hesitate to call 911 Life Safety is most important! It is the responsibility of every individual to learn to recognize the warning signs of a medical emergency. Warning Signs and Symptoms Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath Chest or upper abdominal pain/pressure lasting two minutes or more Fainting, sudden dizziness, weakness Changes in vision Difficulty speaking EXTREME HEAT OR COLD Situation Assessment Assess the situation: 1. If the person is conscious ask them to tell you if anything hurts. If unconscious, gently inspect the person for obvious signs of injury. 2. Do not move the person (especially if they indicate any pain) unless they are in imminent danger of further injury, e.g., an approaching fire. 2. Call 911 if the person is injured. Do not hang up until the dispatchers hang up. 3. You may render first aid, but medical attention should be done by qualified medics. Confusion or changes in mental status, unusual behavior, 4. difficulty waking Do not provide or administer any medicines, and get out of the way once emergency personnel arrive. Any sudden or severe pain Uncontrolled bleeding Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea Limit your conversation with the person to reassurances. Do not discuss their injury if at all possible. Coughing or vomiting blood Do not discuss the accident or what circumstances might have contributed to its cause. Suicidal or homicidal feelings Unusual abdominal pain 7. Do not discuss insurance matters. The human body maintains a temperature between 36-37o C. Any excessive variation to this range has a detrimental effect on the functions of the body. As a general observation, it may be said that the human brain does not react well to excessive body heat, and the heart is sensitive to cold. The body has some natural defense mechanisms against excessive heat and cold. It regulates body heat by sweating, releasing heat through the body surface (heat loss), and through lung moisture evaporation. Cold is managed by shivering, which generates heat within the body. Heat related conditions are those conditions brought on by exposure to high temperatures and humidity. The most spectacular example of a serious heat related problem, is the televised distress suffered by athletes during long distance running events, conducted during hot and humid conditions. Heat may induce heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke. DEHYDRATION Dehydration is a condition caused by the individual's loss of fluids from perspiration and prolonged exposure to heat and humidity. When the individual's fluid loss exceeds his or her input through drinking, dehydration occurs and the blood volume lessens. A prolonged period of dehydration will lead to shock and in susceptible casualties, such as the frail elderly and very young, and the condition can be fatal. Pale, cool, clammy skin Rapid breathing Profuse and prolonged sweating Thirst Loss of skin elasticity (`Pinch test' on back of hand) Sunken eyes in children Serial # Reference Only Not for Copy or Resale All Rights Reserved 1 of 5

2 Complete rest in the shade, no further exertion Remove unnecessary clothing Give cool water to drink Ensure individual has assistance when recovered HEAT CRAMPS Heat cramps are caused by the loss of complex salts (electrolytes) through an imbalance in the body's fluid requirements - the body is losing more fluids than it is replacing. This debit causes the hard-working muscles to lose their vital electrolyte balance, causing muscular contraction. Pale, clammy skin Sweating if associated with exertion Cramping pains in the limbs or abdomen Nausea Uncontrolled spasms of affected limb(s) Rest in the shade Gently stretch the affected muscle Apply ice pack When nausea passes, give sips of cool water to drink (with caution) Avoid massaging affected limb Avoid any further exercise HEAT EXHAUSTION Heat exhaustion is caused by exertion accompanied by heat and high humidity. Pale, cool, clammy skin Rapid breathing Profuse and prolonged sweating Cramps in the limbs and/or abdomen Thirst, nausea and/or vomiting Constant headache Hot, exhaustion and lethargy Complete rest in the shade, no further exertion Remove unnecessary clothing Cool individual by sponging with water When nausea passes, give cool water to drink (cautiously) Ensure individual has assistance when recovered HEAT STROKE This condition is not to be confused with `sun stroke', the common ailment of headache and nausea suffered by children and careless adults who remain in the sun too long without a hat. Also known as 'Core Temperature Emergency', heat stroke is potentially fatal. In this condition, the body's temperature regulation centre in the brain has been rendered inoperable, and the temperature continually rises, causing eventual brain damage. Immediate active intervention is necessary to avoid coma and death. Serial # Reference Only Not for Copy or Resale All Rights Reserved 2 of 5

3 Flushed, hot, dry skin The individual has ceased sweating Rapid pulse, gradually weakening Irrational or aggressive behavior Staggering gait, fatigue Visual disturbances, headache Vomiting Collapse and seizures Coma - death Call 911 for an ambulance Complete rest in shade Remove individual's clothing Cool individual by any means possible - ice packs to neck, groin and armpits Cover individual with wet sheet and fan to increase cooling Be prepared to resuscitate as required Fluids can be given if individual is fully conscious If unconscious or semi-conscious, nothing by mouth - rehydration is required by intravenous fluids administered by a doctor or ambulance crew First Aid: Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency. Call 911 or emergency medical services or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal. Move victim to a cooler environment. Remove clothing. Try a cool bath, sponging or wet sheet to reduce body temperature. Watch for breathing problems. Use extreme caution. Use fans and air conditioners. Serial # Reference Only Not for Copy or Resale All Rights Reserved 3 of 5

4 EXPOSURE TO COLD Exposure to cold has effects which are no less serious than exposure to heat and humidity. Remember that an elderly person in an unheated house during winter, who is incapacitated and unable to summon assistance, is at risk from exposure to cold and hypothermia. This situation is a common occurrence. This is the most common situation relating to persons suffering from low temperatures. It may be due to being caught out in inclement weather during bushwalking, soaked in cold water and unable to change, subject to cold winds (wind chill) without proper protection, or simply by being elderly, or not able to afford proper heating and clothing. Pale, cold skin Increasing lethargy, drowsiness, lack of muscular co-ordination Uncommunicative, poor judgment Shivering Warm slowly by adding additional clothing, heating source, body heat If wet, change the individual's clothing if in stable environment If conscious, give warm, sweet drinks When able to stand, encourage mild exercise HYPOTHERMIA Hypothermia is a potentially fatal condition that especially affects the elderly. The body's core temperature has been lowered to the extent that the brain function is impaired and the heart's activity is about to be compromised. Urgent first aid intervention is required. Pale, cold skin - no capillary return when fingernails are pressed Slow pulse, sometimes irregular Slow, shallow respirations Blurred, or double, vision Individual is silent, appears asleep, difficult to rouse; may be unconscious Individual experiences a sense of `wellbeing' Absence of shivering If very cold, may have non-reacting pupils and appear `death-like' Provide shelter from cold, rain, wet ground, and wind Call 911 for an ambulance Actively warm individual, wrap in `space blanket' or similar If wet, change the individual's clothing Once individual commences shivering, reassess heating Be prepared for sudden collapse and resuscitation If conscious, give warm, sweet drinks DO NOT rub affected area DO NOT expose to excessive heat DO NOT give alcohol Serial # Reference Only Not for Copy or Resale All Rights Reserved 4 of 5

5 Close Document to Return Serial # Reference Only Not for Copy or Resale All Rights Reserved 5 of 5

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