Heatstroke is caused by a failure of the thermostat in the brain which regulates the body temperature. If someone has a high fever or has been exposed to heat for a long time, then their body can become dangerously overheated.

Someone can also get heatstroke after using drugs such as ecstasy.

Sometimes, people get heatstroke after suffering from heat exhaustion. When someone gets too dehydrated they stop sweating which means their body can’t cool down anymore, so they develop heatstroke.

Heatstroke can develop with very little warning, causing unresponsiveness within minutes of someone feeling unwell. Your priority is to cool them down as quickly as possible and get them to hospital.

Watch this instructional video for more information or continue reading below.

What to look for – heatstroke

These are the six key things to look for:

  1. 1. Headache, dizziness and discomfort
  2. 2. Restlessness and confusion
  3. 3. Hot flushed and dry skin
  4. 4. A fast deterioration in the level of response
  5. 5. A full bounding pulse
  6. 6. Body temperature above 40°C (104°F)

What you need to do – heatstroke

• Quickly move them to a cool place and remove their outer clothing but ensure you maintain their dignity.

• Then call 911 for an ambulance.

• Wrap them in a cold wet sheet and keep pouring cold water over it until their temperature falls to at least 38°C (or 100.4°F). Measure this with a thermometer under their tongue or under their armpit.

• If you can’t find a sheet, fan them or sponge them down with cold water to keep them cool.

• Once their temperature seems to have gone back to normal, replace the wet sheet with a dry sheet.

• While waiting for help to arrive, keep checking their temperature, as well as their breathing, pulse and level of response.

• If they start getting hot again, repeat the cooling process to lower their temperature.

• If they lose responsiveness at any point, open their airway, check their breathing and prepare to treat someone who’s become unresponsive.

Source: St John Ambulance First Aid Reference Guide

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