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Know the Signs of Heat Stress

By DOH-Escambia

May 05, 2014

The Florida Department of Health in Escambia County reminds residents that it is important to know the signs of heat stress as temperatures rise and people spend more time in the summer heat. Heat stress is a general term to describe heat-related illnesses that can develop after exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced fluid replacement. Heat stress can develop into heat exhaustion may progress to heat stroke. Persons most prone to heat stress are infants, elderly people, people with high blood pressure, and people working or exercising in a hot environment.

Warning signs of heat stress vary, but may include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness (may be the only sign of heat exhaustion in an infant)
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Cool, moist skin
  • Fast, weak pulse rate
  • Rapid, shallow breathing

Seek immediate medical attention if symptoms are severe or if the victim has heart problems or high blood pressure. Otherwise, help the victim to cool off and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour.

If you suspect significant heat stress:

  • Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages, as directed by your physician
  • Rest in an air-conditioned environment
  • Take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath
  • Wear lightweight clothing
  • Prevent sun burn by wearing a sunscreen of 30 SPF, or greater. Sun burn damages the skin's ability to dissipate heat.

For more information, visit For specific medical questions contact your physician, or dial 911 for emergency care.