Heat stroke vs. heat exhaustion: Here are tips to stay safe in a heat wave

There are hundreds of deaths each year in the U.S. due to excessive heat.

ByEmily Shapiro ABCNews logo
Wednesday, June 5, 2024
What to know about dangers of summer heat waves
Heat-related illness happens when the body is not able to properly cool itself, causing damage to the brain and the rest of the body.

A life-threatening heat wave is bearing down on the West, bringing triple-digital temperatures to Texas, Arizona, Nevada and California.

By Thursday, Las Vegas could climb to 111 degrees and Phoenix could hit a scorching 113 degrees.

MORE | Central Valley to see first stretch of triple-digit temperatures in 2024

AP Photo/Anupam Nath, File

Doctors recommend taking excessive heat warnings seriously. There are hundreds of deaths each year in the U.S. due to excessive heat, according to CDC WONDER, an online database, and scientists caution that the actual number of heat-related deaths is likely higher.

Here are tips to stay safe from the heat from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Wear sunscreen

Take precautions to prevent sunburn, which can make you dehydrated and affect your ability to cool down.

Use sunscreen that's SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes before going outside. Sunscreens that say "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB protection" are best.

MORE | SoCal to see 1st heat wave of season, bringing triple-digit temps to parts of region

Southern California will get a glimpse of what to expect this summer as warmer temperatures are on tap the next few days.

Stay hydrated

Drink extra fluids, and don't wait until you're thirsty.

Avoid very sugary drinks and alcohol, which can cause your body to lose more fluid, and be wary of extra-cold drinks that may cause stomach cramps.

Avoiding hot and heavy meals also can reduce your body's overall temperature.

MORE |How to avoid sweating your energy bill in the high heat

Limit time outside

Cut down on exercise during heat waves and rest often and in shady areas.

Try to limit your time outside to when it is cooler, like in the early morning and evening.

Check the car

Never leave children in a parked car -- even if windows are cracked open.

Monitor high-risk loved ones

Anyone can suffer from heat-related illness at any time, but these people are at greater risk:

  • Babies and young children
  • Overweight people
  • Those 65 years old or older

  • People who overexert during work or exercise
  • Those who suffer from heart disease or high blood pressure and those who take certain medications, including for depression, insomnia or poor circulation

Watch for signs of illness

Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Body temperature of 103 degrees or higher
  • Hot, red, dry or damp skin
  • Fast, strong pulse
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Passing out
  • No longer sweating

Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
ABC News Photo Illustration

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale, clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Headache
  • Passing out

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
ABC News

If someone shows symptoms of heat stroke or heat exhaustion, call 911, move them somewhere cooler and use towels to cool down their body.

Don't forget about your furry friends!

MORE | Top tips to keep your pets safe and cool during dangerous heat

With the high temperatures scorching Southern California, many people are keeping a close eye on their pets when going outside and being mindful of what time of the day they decide to go out.

Here are some tips from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for how to keep your pets safe in the heat: provide plenty of fresh water so they don't get dehydrated; don't over-exercise pets; never leave pets alone in a parked car; and watch for symptoms of overheating, which include excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate and drooling.

Animals with flat faces, like pugs, can't pant as well and are more at risk of heat stroke. These pets, as well as older and overweight pets, should be kept inside as much as possible.

Tips to keep your pets safe in the heat.
Tips to keep your pets safe in the heat.
ABC News Photo Illustration