Heatstroke Can Be Deadly And Is Highly Preventable
Are you aware of the signs of heatstroke?
I share the following personal story for one very important reason. I consider myself to be highly intelligent and safety minded in all aspects of my life because I have a beautiful family that I love dearly. I’m certainly doing all I can to prolong, not shorten my life. However, despite this, I did something that was dangerous and could have been deadly.
It was Saturday afternoon at 1:00 when I decided to squeeze in a two-mile run before meeting new friends at the pool with our children. The temperature was 90 degrees with barely a breeze. I decided to run in a neighborhood adjacent to mine to change up the scenery. Once I hit two miles, I was barely able to breathe or go further, but I was lost, and home didn’t seem as close as it should have been. I looked at the route on my phone and discovered I was 1.4 miles from home.
At first I thought I could just walk a bit and then run the rest of the way home; after all, I had just run 4 miles the weekend before. A familiar feeling started washing over me. When I was 16 and running on my high school cross-country team in humid Houston, TX in August one morning, I was challenged with heat exhaustion. I felt light-headed and thought I would possibly faint.
So, I stopped. I stopped walking. I stopped listening to my ego saying I could push through it. Instead, I started thinking about the effects on other people, like my children, if I had heat stroke. So, I stopped and stood under a shade tree and called my spouse to come pick me up – to rescue me. Avoiding the embarrassment, shame, or sense of failure was not nearly as important to me as getting home alive and without a medical crisis.
Be Aware And Be Prepared
It’s summertime and it’s hot. Don’t make the mistakes I did. The number one mistake I made was going out in the middle of the day when it was the absolute hottest. My second mistake was going for a run without water.
Nearly 700 people die of heat stroke every year even though it is highly preventable. It simply occurs when we humans don’t think and don’t prepare properly for spending time outdoors.
According to the CDC, heat stroke deaths are the deadliest and most preventable weather-related tragedies in the U.S. Heat stroke is considered a medical emergency. It can kill and cause damage to the brain and other internal organs.
Make sure you and your loved ones take what you need to be safe when spending time outside during the summer. If you’re going to the pool, park yourself under an umbrella or take your own umbrella. Same goes for the beach. Take and drink plenty of water, not sugary drinks that add to dehydration. And forge about alcohol in the heat of the day. And most importantly, leave the ego behind. Thinking you or your family can tough out the heat is delusional thinking and potentially irreparably damaging or deadly.
If you suspect someone is suffering from heat stroke, call 911 immediately and do your best to cool their body down until paramedics arrive. Become informed about the symptoms and risks of heat stroke at the CDC website.