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Heat Stress (Heat Exhaustion & Heatstroke)

City Risk LogoOccupational Health & Infectious Disease

                        Risk Management, Portland, OR                                                             5/13/13

Health Tips - Heat Stress Title



There are different forms of heat stress. More commonly, they are known as heat exhaustion and heatstroke.


Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a result of your body overheating. It is caused by exposure to high temperatures (particularly when combined with high humidity) and strenuous physical activity.


Signs & Symptoms

    • Cool, moist skin with goosebumps when in the heat
    • Heavy sweating
    • Faintness
    • Dizziness
    • Tiredness
    • Low blood pressure upon standing
    • Muscle cramps
    • Nausea
    • Headache



    • Stop all activity and rest
    • Move to a cooler place
    • Drink cool water or sports drinks
    • Apply cool water to your skin
    • Loosen clothing




Heatstroke is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures or by doing physical activity in hot weather. Heatstroke happens when your body temperature rises to 104 degrees or higher.


Signs & Symptoms

    • High body temperature
    • Lack of sweating
    • Nausea/Vomiting
    • Flushed Skin
    • Racing heart rate
    • Headache
    • Confusion
    • Unconsciousness
    • Muscle cramps or weakness



If you think someone may be experiencing heatstroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. If possible, do the following:

    • Help the person move to a shaded location and remove excess clothing
    • Place ice packs or cold, wet towels on the person’s head, neck, armpits, and groin
    • Mist the person with water while a fan is blowing air on him or her
    • Immerse person in cool water


Prevention for Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke

    • Drink plenty of fluids!
    • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing
    • Take it easy during the hottest parts of the day
    • Avoid sunburn
    • Seek a cooler place
    • Avoid hot spots


Tip: It is best not to exercise or do any strenuous activity in hot weather, but if you must, follow the same precautions and rest frequently in a cool spot. Taking breaks and replenishing your fluids during that time will help your body regulate your temperature.


Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Heatstroke.

Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Heat Exhaustion.