Heat Stroke

Spruce Woods is a desert. It is surprisingly hot and dry in the summer. Heat stroke is a heat illness defined as a body temperature of greater than 40.6 °C (105.1 °F) due to environmental heat exposure with lack of thermoregulation.

Symptoms include:

  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Red, hot, and dry skin
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Treatment involves rapid physical cooling. The body temperature must be lowered immediately. The patient should be moved to a cool area (indoors, or at least in the shade) and clothing removed to promote heat loss (passive cooling). Active cooling methods may be used: The person is bathed in cool water or a hyperthermia vest can be applied. However, wrapping the patient in wet towels or clothes can actually act as insulation and increase the body temperature. Cold compresses to the torso, head, neck, and groin will help cool the victim. A fan or dehumidifying air conditioning unit may be used to aid in evaporation of the water (evaporative method).

Immersing a patient into a bathtub of cool (but not cold) water (immersion method) is a recognized method of cooling. This method requires the effort of 4-5 people and the patient should be monitored carefully during the treatment process. Immersion should be avoided for an unconscious patient, but if there is no alternative, the patient’s head must be held above water. Immersion in very cold (as opposed to cool) water is counterproductive, as it causes vasoconstriction in the skin and thereby prevents heat from escaping the body core.

You can try to avoid heat stroke by drinking plenty of fluids, wearing lightweight & loose clothing and trying to stay protected from the sun. There will be water at many of the checkpoints so be sure to fill up as often as you can.