First Aid for Heat Exhaustion

This blog on first aid for heat exhaustion is for information purposes only. To receive hands on experience, in affordable, comfortable and convenient classes take one of many first aid classes with Vancouver First Aid. This material is covered in the environmental emergencies section of both emergency and standard childcare first aid courses.

Definition: Heat Exhaustion is a reaction that the body undergoes as it is depleted of of water and salts due to sustained heat and sweating. If left untreated the condition can worsen to heat cramps, heat stroke and death. Water is the main cooling mechanism of the body. As the human body perspires, the sweat evaporates and due to latent heat of evaporation, draws significant amounts of heat. When the body’s ability to produce sweat is compromised by excessive heat the body enters heat exhaustion.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Hot
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Skin is sweating, wet and hot
  • Pulse is weak and rapid
  • Respiration’s are shallow and rapid

Treatment: Remove the victim from the hot environment. If outside, place the victim in the shade. Cool the victim gradually and remove as much clothing as possible. Cool the body with water and a fan. Using a towel placed in cool water and then placing it on the victim will help cool the body. If nausea is not a problem, give the victim something to drink (water is the best choice). If the levels of consciousness do not improve contact EMS.


  • Be Sun Smart. Spending too much time in the sun can lead to Heat Exhaustion and other complications (ex: skin cancer, sun burns, etc.)
  • Stay hydrated and wear sun screen. Drink plenty of liquids to help your body maintain its cooly mechanism.
  • Wear a hat and protect your eyes with sunglasses.
  • Stay in the shade.

If you want to learn to treat heat and exhaustion and other first aid scenarios, take Red Cross First aid training with Vancouver First Aid. We offer no pressure, affordable first aid courses affiliated with the Red Cross and the Lifesaving Society. We look forward to meeting you.

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