Heat stroke exhaustion !

Over the years I was very lucky to learn about walking in the heat during my time in Desert Rescue in Masirah in the Persian Gulf. Nothing can compare with the Temperatures out there they are incredible and it took a lot to learn to walk or work in that heat. I was off loading planes and ships out in the open and it took some getting used to. We knew very little about heat stroke or exhaustion but carried lots of water on the hill and fruit in tins !

Masirah – Desert Rescue

At the end of the weekend with the desert rescue you could lose a lot of weight and looking back it was a huge learning curb. 

Some tips that worked for me: 

Drink plenty of fluid before you go! We had a saying drink like a camel. 

Wear a head covering hat etc and I always covered my neck with a “bandana” that I would wet whenever possible. 

Go slower, drink a little and often and in your water use an additive electrolytes to replace salts etc lost by sweating. 

Check the colour of your urine when you can. The darker the more dehydrated you are. 

Wear comfortable clothing carry long sleeved shirt trousers and have your breaks when possible in the shade. Also if there’s a breeze on the summit use it to cool down.

Top up your fluid from the rivers and burns whenever possible. 

Use sun screen often and replace on the hill it’s easy to sweat of! 

Skin cancer is serious and I wish we knew had known about it when I was working in the early 70’s. I have lost several pals due to skin cancer. 

Sunglasses are essential look after your eyeless 

When travelling back home in car rehydrate and replace lost fluid. Keep an eye on folk in your group for heat exhaustion/heatstroke it can be a killer, there is little water high up just now so ensure you carry enough.

Signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • a headache
  • dizziness and confusion
  • loss of appetite and feeling sick
  • excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
  • cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
  • fast breathing or pulse
  • a high temperature of 38C or above
  • being very thirsty

If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion, they need to be cooled down:

1.     Move them to a cool place or into whatever shade there is available.

2.     Get them to lie down and raise their feet slightly.

3.     Get them to drink plenty of water. Sports or rehydration drinks are OK.

4.     Cool their skin – spray or sponge them with cool water and fan them. Cold packs around the armpits or neck are good, too. Cold packs may not be available in the mountains, but you can improvise by using clothing soaked in water.

Heat stroke

If there are no signs of improvement after 30 minutes of treatment for heat exhaustion it may be developing into heat stroke, which can be very serious if not treated quickly. So at that stage you should dial 999 and ask for the Police and then Mountain Rescue.

Symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • feeling unwell after 30 minutes of resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of water
  • not sweating even while feeling too hot
  • a high temperature of 40C or above
  • fast breathing or shortness of breath
  • feeling confused
  • a fit (seizure)
  • loss of consciousness
  • not responsive

While waiting for assistance from Scottish Mountain Rescue you should stay put, try to keep the casualty hydrated. Placing a wet buff or similar on the back of the neck and fanning can all assist with lowering of temperature. If you can provide shade this should be attempted.  

Put the person in the recovery position if they lose consciousness while you’re waiting for help.

Remember yourself and the others in the party: you are all enduring the same high temperature. If the temperature remains high you should all be drinking plenty and doing what you can to remain cool.

Mountaineering Scotland has great advice on there Website .

More information on heat exhaustion and heatstroke from the NHS.

I always rehydrate on my journey home with water and an electrolyte drink it makes sense.

Be aware in hit periods there is a greater fire risk

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Enviroment, Friends, medical, mountain safety, Mountaineering, People, Weather, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

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