Heat-Related Illnesses

Heat-related illness can be caused by overexposure to the sun or any situation that involves extreme heat. Young children and the elderly are most at risk, but anyone can be affected.

However, these illnesses are preventable and treatable. Learn the signs and symptoms, and what to do if you or someone else may have a heat-related illness.

Heat Cramps

  • Symptoms include muscle spasms, usually in the legs and stomach area.
  • To treat, have the person rest in a cool place and give small amounts of cool water, juice or a commercial sports liquid. (Do not give liquids if the person is unconscious.)
  • Gently stretch and massage the affected area.
  • Do not administer salt tablets.
  • Check for signs of heat stroke or exhaustion.

 Heat Stroke and Exhaustion

  • Symptoms of early heat exhaustion symptoms include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; headache; dizziness; weakness; feeling exhausted; heavy sweating; nausea; and giddiness.
  • Symptoms of heat stroke (late stage of heat illness) include flushed, hot, dry skin; fainting; a rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing; vomiting; and increased body temperature of more than 104 degrees.
  • People with these symptoms should immediately rest in a cool, shaded place and (if conscious) drink plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids.
  • Apply cool, wet cloths or water mist while fanning the person.
  • Seek immediate medical attention by calling 911 or your local emergency number for symptoms that include cool, moist, pale skin, rapid pulse, elevated or lowered blood pressure, nausea, loss of consciousness, vomiting or a high body temperature.
  • For late stage heat stroke symptoms, cool the person further by positioning ice or cold packs on wrists, ankles, groin and neck and in armpits.
  • Administer CPR if the person becomes unconscious.


  • Symptoms painful, red, and arm skin, or blisters
  • Avoid exposure to sunlight until you're healed
  • Use moisturizing lotion or a cool cloth or bath
  • Seek emergency care if you experience a fever or chills, nauseau or vomiting, or confusion as a result of a sunburn

Anyone who thinks they're having a medical emergency should not hesitate to seek care. Federal law ensures that anyone who comes to the emergency department is treated and stabilized, and that their insurance provides coverage based on symptoms, not a final diagnosis. 

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