First Aid for Heat-induced Illnesses

High temperatures, like the kind we experience in a North Central Texas summer, along with high humidity, can cause heat-related illnesses which range in severity from mild heat cramps, to heat exhaustion, to potentially life-threatening heatstroke. The following table lists these illnesses, their symptoms, and the first aid treatment.



First Aid


Skin redness and pain, possible swelling, blisters, fever, headaches.

Take a shower using soap to remove oils that may block pores, preventing the body from cooling naturally. Apply dry, sterile dressings to any blisters, and get medical attention.

Heat Cramps

Painful spasms, usually in leg and abdominal muscles; heavy sweating.

Get the victim to a cooler location. Lightly stretch and gently massage affected muscles to relieve spasms. Give sips of up to a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. (Do not give liquids with caffeine or alcohol.)
Discontinue liquids if the victim is nauseated.

Heat Exhaustion

Heavy sweating but skin may be cool, pale, or flushed. Weak pulse. Normal body temperature is possible, but the temperature will likely rise. Fainting or dizziness, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, and headaches are possible.

Get the victim to lie down in a cool place. Loosen or remove clothing. Apply cool, wet clothes. Fan or move victim to air-conditioned place. Give sips of water if the victim is conscious. Be sure water is consumed slowly. Give half a glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Discontinue water if the victim is nauseated. Seek immediate medical attention if vomiting occurs.

Heat Stroke (a severe medical emergency)

High body temperature (105+); hot, red, dry skin; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid shallow breathing.
A victim will probably not sweat unless the victim was sweating from recent strenuous activity.
Possible unconsciousness.

Call 911 or emergency medical services, or get the victim to a hospital immediately. Delay can be fatal. Move victim to a cooler environment.
Removing clothing. Try a cool bath, sponging, or wet sheet to reduce body temperature. Watch for breathing problems. Use extreme caution.
Use fans and air conditioners.