India: Heatwave leaves over a dozen dead from heat stroke
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Soaring temperatures will see Britons facing highs of more than 30C throughout the month, leaving millions of people at risk of heat-related illness. Heatstroke is just one immediate threat which can occur after exposure to extreme heat and the blistering sun, but what are the signs that could indicate that you have it? Express.co.uk reveals the key danger signs to look for so you can act quickly and prevent serious illness during the heatwave.
The Met Office has now issued an Amber Extreme Heat Warning, with temperatures due to soar later in the week and into the weekend.
The forecasters warn temperatures could be “in excess of 35C in the southeast, and more widely around 32C within the warning area”.
The warning is in place from midnight on Sunday through to 11.59pm and covers the East Midlands, East England, London and South East England, North East England, North West England, South West England, Wales, West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber.
If you’re out and about during the hot weather, one thing to watch for is heatstroke. Read on for the symptoms, how to prevent and when to ask for help.
What are the symptoms of heatstroke?
Heatstroke is caused by a failure of the ‘thermostat’ in the brain which is responsible for regulating the body’s temperature.
Spending too much time in the sun, exercising in a hot environment and having heat exhaustion can also lead to heatstroke, causing a string of unpleasant physical symptoms.
Exhaustion is one of the earliest indicators that you have too much sun, but there are several other warning signs you should know in order to act quickly.
According to the NHS, a headache is one of the most common symptoms of heat exhaustion, which occurs before heatstroke sets in.
This happens when the blood vessels in the body narrow as a result of dehydration.
Heat stroke can come on quickly if it’s very hot or you’re overexerting yourself, which is why it is crucial to stay hydrated in the sun and act immediately if you do experience symptoms.
Sweating is the body’s natural reaction to heat when it struggles to balance its temperature.
As the sweat evaporates, the surface of the skin cools, but this doesn’t always happen in cases of heatstroke.
In fact, the NHS warned not sweating even while feeling too hot is a serious sign of heatstroke and should result in a phone call to 999.
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Confusion and loss of consciousness
Heat-related dizziness, confusion, and fainting are also a direct consequence of the body overheating and are caused by reduced blood flow to the brain.
Better Health said: “Heat causes an increase in blood flow to the skin and pooling of blood in the legs, which can lead to a sudden drop in blood pressure.
“There can be a feeling of light-headedness before fainting occurs.”
The NHS advised you should call 999 if you or someone else is unconscious or confused after being exposed to extreme heat.
In some cases, a fit (seizure) can also affect people who have heatstroke, and should always be treated as a medical emergency.
According to St John Ambulance, another danger sign of heatstroke is being unresponsive after extreme sun exposure.
Becoming less responsive quickly is the main sign, especially when coupled with a headache, confusion and restlessness.
Body temperature above 40C
A body temperature which measures about 40C (104F) is yet another sign of this heat-related illness.
What to do if you have symptoms of heatstroke
Taking action quickly is crucial to prevent serious illness from heatstroke, but it isn’t always as simple as drinking water or cooling down the body.
While the NHS recommended drinking plenty of cold drinks, taking cool showers, wearing light clothing and avoiding excess alcohol, heatstroke can still catch you out.
If you are with someone who presents the obvious signs of heatstroke, there are a few key steps you should always take.
According to St John’s Ambulance you should:
- Quickly move the casualty to a cool place and remove as much of their outer clothing as you can
- Call 999 or 112 for emergency help
- Help them to sit down in a comfortable, supported position
- Wrap them in a cool, wet sheet and keep pouring cold water over the sheet until their temperature falls to at least 37.5C (measured under the armpit)
- If a sheet is not available, fan them or sponge them down with cold water
- Once their temperature has come down to normal, replace the wet sheet with a dry one
- While waiting for help to arrive, monitor their level of response and temperature
- If their temperature starts to increase, cool them down again using the same method
- If they become unresponsive at any point, open their airway, check their breathing and prepare to give CPR
According to St John’s Ambulance you should:
Quickly move the casualty to a cool place and remove as much of their outer clothing as you can
Call 999 or 112 for emergency help
Help them to sit down in a comfortable, supported position
Wrap them in a cool, wet sheet and keep pouring cold water over the sheet until their temperature falls to at least 37.5C (measured under the armpit)
If a sheet is not available, fan them or sponge them down with cold water
Once their temperature has come down to normal, replace the wet sheet with a dry one
While waiting for help to arrive, monitor their level of response and temperature
If their temperature starts to increase, cool them down again using the same method
If they become unresponsive at any point, open their airway, check their breathing and prepare to give CPR
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