Excessive heat warnings hit Valley; Know signs of heat-related stress and when to call 911
June 18, 2012
Contact: Patty Jo Angelini, public education officer, 480-312-1815;
Excessive heat warnings hit Valley;
Know signs of heat-related stress and when to call 911
Knowing the signs of heat-related stress could be a life saver this week -- the National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings.
Individuals suffer a heat-related illness when the body's temperature control system is
overloaded and the body can no longer cool itself. “Call 911 if a person becomes confused, passes out from the heat or stops sweating,” said Scottsdale Fire Capt. Dean Gehl.
Common symptoms of a heat-related illness include:
- Heavy sweating
- Shallow breathing
- Rapid but weakened pulse rate
- If heat exhaustion is left untreated, it may progress to heat stroke, a severe form of heat illness.
People need to know the early warning signs. “If you get heat cramps, that is your body’s
way of saying, Enough! You need to listen to your body,” Gehl said. “Go inside and drink
room-temperature water. Avoid sugary drinks, caffeine, full-strength Gatorade and alcohol,” he said.
“When a person is excessively sweating, has dizziness, headache, nausea /vomiting or feels weak, he could be showing signs of heat exhaustion. If the person does not feel better 10-15 minutes after going inside and drinking water, call 911,” Gehl said.
The body normally cools itself by sweating. As long as blood is flowing properly to the skin, extra heat from the body is pumped to the skin and removed by sweat evaporation. When the body’s ability to decrease body heat is overwhelmed and the body is unable to tolerate the excessive heat, illness develops. Illness from heat exposure can take the following three forms: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Under extreme conditions, sweating can result in significant fluid loss and body temperatures can rise rapidly. Consider that the human body is 70 percent water and that the average a person has five quarts of blood. When walking through the desert in the heat, a person loses about a quart of water an hour. Five hours without water can be deadly.
Children, seniors and individuals with chronic illnesses are at higher risk for heat-related illnesses.
Last year, Scottsdale Fire responded to 65 weather-related exposure calls. Every Scottsdale Fire crew consists of highly-trained Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians that provide emergency medical care. Nearly 70 percent of all calls Scottsdale Fire responds to are medical emergencies.