Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to 41°C or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given.
Symptoms of heat stroke include:
- Confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech
- Loss of consciousness (coma)
- Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
- Very high body temperature
- Fatal if treatment delayed
Take the following steps to treat a worker with heat stroke:
- Call 911 for emergency medical care.
- Stay with the worker until emergency medical services arrive.
- Move the worker to a shaded, cool area and remove outer clothing.
- Cool the worker quickly with cold water or ice bath if possible; wet the skin, place cold wet cloths on the skin, or soak clothing with cool water.
- Circulate the air around the worker to speed cooling.
- Place cold wet cloths or ice on head, neck, armpits, and groin; or soak the clothing with cool water.