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How To Avoid Suffering From Heat Stroke/Exhaustion

Published: 29 Jul 2013 | Article written by: Hyperloop Hoops

As someone that has suffered Heat Stroke I would like to offer you some advice on how to avoid it. As hoopers we often spend long hours hooping in the sunshine, either joining in with or teaching workshops. We leap about, sweating profusely and burning off calories and are enjoying ourselves so much that we don't really notice how hot we get until we stop. Heat Stroke can be fatal and it is very easy to fall victim to it if you are not vigilant, as my story will show, and I wasn't even hooping...

A week ago I went to London for my Nieces graduation ceremony. I arrived with my sister and nieces the day before the graduation to sort out details and to be sure my niece Beccie had everything she needed. It was an extremely hot day, somewhere around 36C. You city dwellers can vouch for just how humid and like a pressure cooker the city can be when the temperature rises.

We spent most of the day rushing about, picking things up, checking into our overnight lodgings and picking up food for a buffet that was going to happen after the ceremony. I drank a huge amount of water (over 2 litres in 4 hours) trying to keep cool and trying not to get dehydrated as we were all sweating a lot. By about 4pm, I started to feel very ill and couldn't seem to keep my head from feeling like it would burst, because it felt like my brain was bubbling inside my skull. I also felt like all my teeth were going to fall out. I was confused and disorientated and hadn't noticed these feelings creeping up on me.

In an attempt to help me feel better we went into a pub to get out of the heat. I started to sip on iced fruit juice, but this just caused me to feel nauseous and worse. I end up in the sub subterranean toilets sitting on the slate floor, as it was the coldest place I could find. By this time I genuinely felt like I might just die. I'd been vomiting and had... well let's just say the world and its wife had fallen out of my bum. My heart kept racing and my muscles were twitching. My sister, being the lovely sensible person that she is, helped me by making me sip isotonic drinks and lick salty crisps. I tried eating them but I had no saliva and couldn't chew them without the crisps just sticking to my teeth and the roof of my mouth. It was impossible to swallow them without swilling them around with water. This just made me vomit again.

All this happened because I drank too much water, didn't eat anything all day and was in very hot places for hours on end. I had, in effect, boiled my brain and washed all the very important electrolytes from my body. I felt so bad that I couldn't think straight and was making some very bad choices for myself. Without my sister insisting I eat and drink isotonic fluids, I probably would have carried on guzzling water as that is what my brain was telling me I needed. I was so thirsty and felt so nauseous that water was all I wanted. I could very well have got much worse. Thank you very much big sister!

My advice to all of you is that if you are out and about on hot days, always take some snacks and isotonic drinks with you and DO NOT just guzzle water thinking it will keep you going. Keep as cool as possible and seek out shade/air conditioning whenever you can. Heat stroke can kill so please take it seriously. Watch out for signs that you are struggling and tell someone, so they can help you to make right choices and get you help if you need it.

Heat stroke symptoms:-

  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Red, hot, and dry skin
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Behavioural changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
  • Shaking or muscle ticks
  • Fitting*
  • Collapse/unconsciousness*

*Call for an ambulance immediately.

Once heat stroke had taken hold of my brain I was unable to make the right choices for myself, so if you witness someone suffering from any of these symptoms on a hot day, please do step in and get them help or guide them to make the right choices.. You could save their life. Keep an eye on the people who are hooping with you. If you see any of these symptoms take action.

First Aid Treatment:-

  • Get them to rest in a cool place - ideally a room with air conditioning or, if this isn't possible, somewhere in the shade.
  • Get them to drink fluids - this should be water or a rehydration drink, such as a sports drink; they should stop taking fluid on board once their symptoms have greatly decreased (usually within two to three hours).
  • Avoid alcohol or caffeine as these can increase levels of dehydration.
  • Cool their skin with cold water - if available, use a cool shower or bath to cool them down, otherwise apply a cool, wet flannel or facecloth to their skin.
  • Loosen clothing and ensure that the person gets plenty of ventilation.

Call to request an ambulance if the person doesn't respond to the above treatment within 30 minutes or starts to fit or becomes unconscious.

If the person is more at risk of developing heatstroke or suffering complications from dehydration then they should be taken to hospital either way. This group includes:-

  • Children under two years old.
  • Very elderly people.
  • People with kidney, heart or circulation problems.
  • People with diabetes who use insulin.

Look after yourselves in the heat. Keep hydrated, stay in the shade or cool places when you can and remember just water is not enough. If you are taking classes/workshops or especially if you are running the classes/workshops make sure everyone takes regular breaks to sip isotonic drinks and snack on things like bananas, salty snacks etc.

Have a great, safe Summer!

Hyperloop Hoops

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