Heat Exhaustion and Treatment

With an estimated average of 360 days of sun throughout the year, they call St. Petersburg the
Sunshine City with good reason. But with all that glorious sun comes unrelenting heat…and
it’s just too darn hot!!! We’ve seen the heat wave across the nation on the news, but when the
heat index in St. Petersburg reaches 96 degrees on a typical day…it hits close to home and it
becomes time to take a closer look at heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body has been exposed to excessive heat conditions and the
ability to cool itself adequately is lost.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include excessive sweating, muscle cramping, headache, nausea,
dizziness, weakness, fatigue, and confusion. In addition, darkly colored urine is an indication of
dehydration. Should you start feeling these symptoms, it is imperative to seek relief by getting
into a shaded area or air conditioning and keep the body at rest. Drinking water or sports drinks
will aid in replenishing fluids lost, however stay away from ANY caffeinated or alcoholic
beverages. If after 30 minutes, there is no improvement in your condition, seek professional
medical attention.

Those at highest risk for heat exhaustion include the elderly as well as infants and children
(whose body’s internal thermoregulatory capacity has not sufficiently developed). While
snowbirds flock to the North during the summer months, parents find relief with indoor
playgrounds such as those found at Chick fil a and the newly renovated McDonald’s on 4th and
38th with its Play Place. Air conditioning, a mid-afternoon snack and happy children? What more
could a parent ask for!

The good news is that for those of us who have lived in the St. Petersburg area for the majority
of our lives, our bodies have already adapted to the heat and are better prepared to cool down
than those from cooler climates. And when you look at the big picture, it could always be
worse…we could be living in Seattle with an average 226 days of cloud cover.