By Tom Snyder
When people think of something dangerous at the beach they often think, of course, of sharks. However, the real killer at the beach isn’t in the ocean, but instead comes from the sun.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke kill a large number of people every year, and with how hot it gets here in Florida, its important to stay ahead of the summer heat and be aware of the symptoms of heat exhaustion and – the more deadly – heat stroke.
Heat Exhaustion Symptoms and Treatment
People who are suffering from heat exhaustion may exhibit the following symptoms: pale skin, profuse sweating, confusion, headaches, nausea, cramping, fatigue, dizziness, a rapid heart-beat and in some cases fainting.
To treat heat exhaustion, take the person out of the heat as soon as possible, and bring them to a cool, air-conditioned place. Once there, try to rehydrate them (avoiding giving them anything with caffeine or alcohol in it, as those will only dehydrate them) and cool them down any way you can. If the symptoms don’t start to diminish, call for medical help, as heat exhaustion can easily progress into heat stroke.
Heat Stroke Symptoms and Treatment
People who are suffering from heat stroke may exhibit the following symptoms: a throbbing headache, light-headedness, no sweat, red hot and dry skin, nausea, rapid shallow breathing, and in some cases seizures or a loss of consciousness. The body of a person suffering heat stroke has lost the ability to regulate its internal body temperature.
To help a person suffering heat stroke, call 911 immediately. Once a person’s body has hit the point of heat stroke they need immediate hospitalization.
Ways to Avoid
Fortunately, the precautions one can take to avoid the aforementioned conditions are relatively simple – stay hydrated and don’t stay outside for too long when its over 90˚ F outside.
(Editor’s Note: Tom Snyder is a lifeguard for the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club and has first hand experience with the above. Since we are not having our traditional afternoon showers, beachgoers have extended their time baking and end up getting burned.)