July 17, 2024

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Beware of heatstroke: Here’s how to prevent and relieve them

Beware of heatstroke: Here’s how to prevent and relieve them

Summer is in full swing, and although the first heat waves are already behind us, other heat waves will appear in the province this season, which will be particularly hot, so Quebecers must be extra vigilant to avoid heatstroke.

For those who’ve never suffered before, here’s how to prevent heatstroke and what to do if you see a scorching heatstroke victim on your path.

How to prevent heat stroke?

According to the CIUSSS de la Mauricie-et-du-Centre-du-Québec website, there are four behaviors to reduce the risk of suffering from heat stroke.

1- Hydrate well

In addition to eating water-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids without waiting to feel thirsty. No need to drink just water: juice, milk or even herbal teas can do the trick.

2-Keep cool

CIUSSS recommends spending a few hours a day in an air-conditioned area or a cooler room in your home, such as the basement. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to a public place with air conditioning.

3-Reduce physical exertion

It is also recommended to reduce physical activity, especially outdoors, when the sun is at its peak, from 10 am to 3 pm. If you must work or exercise outdoors, make sure you take regular cool breaks and hydrate adequately.

4-Avoid alcohol or coffee

According to Familyprix, consumption of alcohol or diuretic agents such as caffeine or guarana, which increase urine production, should be avoided to stay hydrated.

5-A phone call to those who are alone

To ensure everyone’s well-being, check on your loved ones, your friends or even your neighbors who live alone or are more vulnerable to extreme temperatures.

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What are the first symptoms?

The first symptoms of heat stroke are often headache and dehydration, resulting in strong thirst, rapid heartbeat and breathing, but also dry skin and a decreased need to urinate, according to the Quebec government’s website.

However, heat stroke can cause muscle cramps, swelling of the hands, feet, and ankles, a small red “heat rash” on the skin, unusual fatigue, general malaise, or nausea and vomiting.

How long does it last?

If you or someone you know has these symptoms, take them to a cool place immediately and give them water.

According to the Journal des Femmes, when heat stroke is treated quickly, it usually lasts less than 12 hours.

When to consult?

On the other hand, if symptoms include difficulty breathing, convulsions, loss of consciousness, confusion, abnormal behavior, agitation, hallucinations, dizziness, or a body temperature higher than 39.5 oC (103.1 oF), you should check with an oral thermometer. A doctor as soon as possible.

According to the Quebec government, a doctor’s intervention is necessary “within two hours.”

How to react?

If one of your loved ones or a stranger on the street suffers from heat stroke, here are the steps to follow to help them:

1-Call emergency services immediately.

2-While waiting for medical help to arrive, move the person to the shade and cool place

3-Remove the person’s clothing and moisten his skin using wet compresses

4-Use a fan if possible and fan the person vigorously

5-If the person is conscious, ask him to drink water

6-Take a person’s body temperature every 10 minutes: if it drops below 38 oC, you can dry them off. If it rises again, continue cooling.

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7- If the victim vomits, place him on his side to prevent choking on his secretions.

Poor air quality and heat: What should be prioritized?

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The Quebec government said on its website that if the stars align and a poor air quality warning is met with a heat wave, measures aimed at preventing the effects of the heat should be prioritized.

Indeed, heat “is generally more harmful to health than poor air quality”, we read. So it is better to open the shutters if the temperature makes you uncomfortable than to close yourself to avoid the outside air.