This Is the Temperature at Which You're in Danger of Heat Stroke

Know your limits.

In case you weren't aware, most of the country is currently embroiled in a massive heat wave. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 600 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year. And with temperatures soaring above 100 degrees in some areas, it's more crucial than ever to be aware of the dangers of these deadly highs.

The symptoms for heat exhaustion and heat stroke are similar, as both involve a headache, dizziness, nausea, rapid heart rate, and losing consciousness. But there are two warning signs that signal that your body is moving from heat exhaustion to a potentially fatal heat stroke. The first is that your skin will go from feeling cold and clammy to dry and hot. But the second—and most important—symptom is a body temperature of 104 degrees or higher, according to the Mayo Clinic.

If you or someone you know shows signs of heat exhaustion, the CDC recommends putting on loose-fitting clothing, taking a cold bath, and sipping water. But, if someone is showing signs of a heat stroke, it is advised to move them to a cooler place, not give them anything to drink, and call 911 immediately.

If you have elderly relatives or neighbors, it's important to check in with them, as they are especially vulnerable.

"Hypertension, coronary artery disease, and kidney disease—common in the senior population—all elevate the risk for developing heat stroke, due to reduced cardiac reserve and plasticity of blood vessels," Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, recently told U.S. News & World Report. "These are major risk factors for heat stroke."

Athletes should also be especially wary, given that engaging in outdoor physical activity is not recommended in extreme heat. "Athletes exercising in the heat need to remember to keep ahead of their fluids," Glatter said. "It's vital to stay ahead of your thirst during these heat extremes, not just to drink when you are thirsty."

On Thursday night, former New York Giants offensive lineman Mitch Petrus died from heat stroke at the age of 32. He had been working outside his family's shop in Carlisle, Arkansas, where the temperatures hit a high of 93 degrees on Thursday. His tragic passing is a stark reminder of the importance of taking care of yourself during a heat wave, especially if you plan to do any physical activity outside.

"Taking breaks is essential when intensely exercising in the heat for more than one hour," Glatter said. "This includes rest, finding shade from the sun, and drinking water mixed with sugar and electrolytes. Salty pretzels, fruit and nuts are always a good option if you don't have access to a drink with sugar and electrolytes."

And if you need help staying cool at night, here are 40 Effective Tips for Sleeping Better on Sweltering Summer Nights.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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