Summer is a time when families get together and people swim in swimming pools and often spend too much time in a heat related environment. Subsequently, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and swimming injuries and drowning can occur.
Heat exhaustion occurs when the individual is exposed to heat for extended periods of time. Heat exhaustion is the result of water depletion or "dehydration and/or salt depletion in the body. Heat exhaustion can be exacerbated by physical activity and is of concern in the summer months especially in warmer climates. Various symptoms of heat exhaustion the result of water depletion can include headache, excessive thirst, muscle weakness, and loss of consciousness. Symptoms of heat exhaustion due to salt depletion include dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and muscle cramps. If you or someone you know is showing signs of heat exhaustion, get out of the heat and into a cool shady place where you can rest, and drink plenty of fluids.
Here in South Texas, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke very quickly. Heat stroke occurs when the body’s temperature rises to at least 104° and neurological complications begin to appear. Besides the body temperature, complications are displayed as observable symptoms including visible confusion or disorientation, seizures, sometimes loss of consciousness, and nausea. If you suspect that you or someone else is experiencing heat stroke, call 911 immediately. Delaying medical attention to can lead to permanent damage to the brain and nervous system.
With summer temperatures often in the triple digits, kids and adults alike take to the water for relief. Pools, lakes, ocean beaches, and other bodies of water are packed with swimmers searching for fun and reprieve from the heat. Despite being fun and entertaining, swimming injuries and drowning can result especially when individuals are not knowledgeable of their own capabilities or tolerance. Children are the most at-risk, as they are often the weakest swimmers. This common summer emergency risk can be greatly avoided by enrolling in swim lessons, where children can learn how to move effectively in water and stay afloat in the event of an emergency. Over-exertion is another cause of swimming injuries and drowning — so if you’re thinking about jumping in the water, know your limits. Stay away from turbulent seas where rip currents may lurk, and never push yourself too hard in the pool, as this can lead to muscle cramps and fainting.
While it’s always best to swim where there is a lifeguard on duty, this isn’t always possible In cases where there is no lifeguard present, it’s crucial that someone in your party knows CPR to properly address a medical emergency. To prepare yourself for the water this summer season, we recommend enrolling in a CPR or First Aid course to learn how to properly administer CPR and administer First Aid protocol when needed.
Are you interested in learning more about how to stay safe this summer? Our experts at Help-A-Heart CPR are here to help. Take a look at our website to learn more about the many emergency response courses and CPR training classes we offer and contact us directly to speak with a member of our team. Enroll online to sign up for our accredited courses, earn your certification, and make this summer the safest one yet!
Dr. Tracy A. Jones is an American Heart Association, ASHI, and American Red Cross Master Program Trainer, Instructor, & AHA Faculty Member located in San Antonio, Texas.