Heat-Related Illnesses
Before Event During Event After Event Resources

During the Event

Even those in excellent health, can have heat illness if symptoms are ignored.

Signs and Symptoms

A person with a heat-related illness may have:

  • A high body temperature (above 102° F)
  • Cool, moist, pale skin (the skin may be red right after physical activity). Skin may appear red and hot with no sweating.
  • Small pupils
  • A rapid, weak pulse
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Dizziness and weakness or exhaustion
  • Extreme confusion or irritability
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

First Aid Guide

When heat-related illness is suspected, seek emergency medical care immediately. While awaiting emergency medical services, try to cool the person as described below.
Use a combination of the following measures depending on the circumstances and means available:

  • Have the person rest, legs slightly elevated, in a shaded area or cool or air-conditioned building, room, or car
  • Remove or loosen the person’s clothing
  • Give the person an electrolyte drink or water. Do not give beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol.
  • Wrap the person in wet cloth, and position a fan toward them. Evaporation of water on the skin aids in cooling.
  • Apply cold compresses to the neck, armpits, groin, etc.

Individuals At Risk

People most susceptible to head-related illnesses are those who are outdoors on a hot, humid day or inside in a poorly ventilated area, particularly children, the elderly, or the obese. Children and the elderly show the fastest progression of symptoms and can collapse suddenly.

Those on certain medications can suffer from heat illness, as well, as medications can alter the way the body handles heat and sun. Those who drink alcohol before, during, or after vigorous activity are more susceptible to heat illness, as are people who do heavy work with inadequate fluid intake.

Updated June 2017