First Aid

    Heat exhaustion starts slowly, but if it's not quickly treated it can progress to heatstroke. In heatstroke, a person's temperature reaches 105°F (40.5°C) or higher. Heatstroke requires immediate emergency medical care and can be life-threatening.

    Signs and Symptoms

    Of heat exhaustion:

    • increased thirst
    • weakness and extreme tiredness
    • fainting
    • muscle cramps
    • nausea and vomiting
    • irritability
    • headache
    • increased sweating
    • cool, clammy skin
    • body temperature rises, but to less than 105°F (40.5°C)

    Of heatstroke:

    • severe headache
    • weakness, dizziness
    • confusion
    • fast breathing and heartbeat
    • loss of consciousness (passing out)
    • seizures
    • little or no sweating
    • flushed, hot, dry skin
    • body temperature rises to 105°F (40.5°C) or higher

    What to Do

    If your child has symptoms of heatstroke, get emergency medical care immediately.

    For cases of heat exhaustion or while awaiting help for a child with possible heatstroke:

    • Bring the child indoors or into the shade immediately.
    • Undress the child.
    • Have the child lie down; raise the feet slightly.
    • If the child is alert, place in a lukewarm bath or spray with lukewarm water. 
    • If the child is alert and coherent, give frequent sips of cool, clear fluids.
    • If the child is vomiting, turn onto his or her side to prevent choking.

    Think Prevention!

    • Teach kids to always drink plenty of liquids before and during any activity in hot, sunny weather — even if they aren't thirsty.
    • Make sure kids wear light-colored, loose clothing in warm weather.
    • Remind kids to look for shaded areas and rest often while outside.
    • Don't let kids participate in heavy activity outdoors during the hottest hours of the day.
    • Teach kids to come indoors immediately whenever they feel overheated.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2021 KidsHealth® All rights reserved. Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com