First Aid for Heat Cramps and Muscle Cramps

The information posted in this blog about first aid for heat cramps is for information purposes only. To learn to recognize and treat for heat cramps take one of many first aid training courses offered through Vancouver First Aid. Heat cramps and muscle cramps are included in the environmental emergencies component of standard first aid training. This topic is covered again in standard first aid re-certifications.

Definition of heat and muscle cramps: Heat cramps are painful and sudden muscle spasms caused by a significant loss of water and salts from prolonged heat exposure or intense perspiration from hard work without adequate fluid and electrolyte intake. Cramps are typically associated with the abdomen, arms and calves but can occur in other areas.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Usually the precursor to heat cramps is heat exhaustion.
  • Victim has been in a hot environment.
  • Skin is warm/hot and sweating.
  • Painful muscular spasms. If the spasms are from over exersion the spasms will be the muscles being overused. Muscles can also be twitching.
  • Lower levels of consciousness.
  • Shock.

Treatment for heat and muscle cramps:

  • Remove the victim from the hot environment and remove excess clothing (for heat cramps)
  • Rehydrate the victims body with cool water.
  • Stretch the cramp.
  • To restore electrolytes and salts, advise the victim to eat.
  • Massage the victims cramp along the length of the muscle (for muscle cramps).


  • Be sun smart. Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun and wear protective clothing such as hats and sunglasses.
  • Exercise smart. Do not excessively overexert yourself. Over Excessive excursion increases likelihood of injury and complications such as heat cramps.
  • Stay Hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids and restore electrolyts after and/or during your workout. You need to replace the fluids and salts that have been lost during perspiration.

If you want to learn to recognize and treat heat and muscle cramps take a first aid course in Vancouver with Vancouver First Aid. Our instructors are affiliated with the Red Cross and the Lifesaving society and provide hands-on training in no-pressure affordable classes. We look forward to meeting you.