Heat exhaustion versus heat stroke; spotting the difference

Reporter: Juliana Mejia
Published: Updated:

With all of Southwest Florida under a heat advisory, The Weather Authority Meteorologist Juliana Mejia noted it is important to know the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

“Feels-like temperatures, looking ahead to Thursday afternoon, will hit the triple digits –feeling like 108 degrees for Naples, 110 for Fort Myers, 111 for Punta Gorda,” said Mejia.

Heat exhaustion versus heat stroke

“With heat exhaustion, your skin is cool, pale, and clammy, whereas with heat stroke, your skin is red, hot, and dry,” she explained.

With heat stroke, you may also experience a rapid, strong pulse and lose consciousness.

What to do

For heat exhaustion, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends:

  • Move to a cool place
  • Loosen your clothes
  • Put cool, wet cloths on your body or take a cool bath
  • Sip water

Get medical help right away if:

  • You are throwing up
  • Your symptoms get worse
  • Your symptoms last longer than 1 hour

For heat stroke, the CDC recommends:

  • Call 911 right away; heat stroke is a medical emergency
  • Move the person to a cooler place
  • Help lower the person’s temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath
  • Do not give the person anything to drink

Heat stroke in pets

Heat stroke is not just an issue for people. Pets can also experience it. According to the American Kennel Club, contributing factors include:

  • Breed: All breeds can experience heat stroke, but it may be more likely in long-haired and brachycephalic (short-nosed) dogs.
  • Age: Very young dogs and older dogs are more susceptible.
  • Physical fitness: Out-of-shape dogs are vulnerable when they exert energy in excessively hot surroundings.
  • Weight: Dogs that need to lose weight are more likely to suffer heat stroke.
  • Environment: Being confined in an exercise pen or crate without fresh water in direct sunlight or for an extended period of time.
  • Water: Restricted access to water or not drinking enough water can cause overheating.

If you notice signs of heatstroke in your dog, it’s critical to stop any activity and help your dog cool down by:

  • Walk or carry the dog to a well-ventilated, cool area.
  • Spray or sponge the dog with cool (not cold) or tepid water. Do NOT immerse the animal in cold water.
  • Use a fan to blow cool air on them.
  • You may also need to consult a Veterinarian.

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