A heat casualty is any person who is a victim of heat injury. Heat injury is heat related illness which is caused by a combination of excessive exposure to hot temperature and the body’s inability to regulate the body’s core temperature. There are generally three (3) types of heat injuries expressed according to their level of severity; heat cramp, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Types of heat casualty –
Heat casualty can be expressed in terms of the three (3) heat injuries –
- Heat cramps: This is a painful but brief intermittent and involuntary spasm of large muscle caused by exposure to a hot environment; it may occur during the exposure, or after the exposure. It is said to be caused by electrolyte deficiency. Some risk factors include: Alcoholism, Drug abuse, working in hot environment, etc.
- Heat exhaustion: Heat exhaustion results from the body’s inability to regulate the core body temperature after prolonged exposure to high temperature. It could be caused either by water depletion or salt depletion. Risk factors associated with heat exhaustion are: strenuous job/exercise, heavy clothing, obesity, some medications, etc. Heat exhaustion poses some symptoms ranging from drop in blood pressure, dizziness, nausea, headache, rapid heart-beat, etc.
- Heat stroke: This is caused by failure of the body temperature regulating mechanism to regulate the core body temperature resulting to overheating of the body. This is a most serious form of heat injury, also considered as medical emergency. It is characterized by confusion, red/dry/damp skin, headache, dizziness, coma, internal organ damage, death, etc.
Heat casualty symptoms
Some of the symptoms expressed by a heat casualty are:
- Drop in blood pressure
- Rapid heart-beat
- Red/dry/damp skin
- Internal organ damage
- Death, etc.
Anyone who develops any of the above three (3) heat injuries is termed “A heat casualty”.
To avoid being a heat casualty, these are the things you should do:
- As much as possible, avoid excessive exposure to heat – High temperature
- When exposed to high temperature, try to take much fluid to replenish water and electrolyte lost to sweat.
- Do not wear tight fitted cloth, wear cloth which will give allowance for heat regulation.
- Avoid using dark coloured clothing (like black cloths), they tend to conserve it.
- If you must work under high temperature for a long time, avoid alcohol.
- Maintain safe weight, as obesity is a risk factor
- Avoid caffeinated fluids. Caffeinated and alcoholic fluid can make you lose more fluid thereby worsening the situation.
- Take shade intermittently to cool off
- If you start feeling symptoms of heat illness, move away from the hot environment immediately, remove your cloths if you are in a comfortable location, cool yourself with water and take fluid. You should recover in few minutes.
- If the symptom is severe, visit a medical personnel.