An imbalance of heat could be as little as 2 or 3 degrees above or below where it should be.
Examples of this are;
- Hypothermia (Too cold)
- Heat Exhaustion (Mildly over heating)
- Heat Stroke (Far too hot)
- Infantile Convulsions (Children’s way of a ‘releasing excess heat)
The key thing for all of these conditions is to remove the cause. Whether that’s removing cold, wet clothes, or by moving the person into the shade, out of the sun.
When someone has hypothermia, they need to be warmed back up to normal body temperature, which is around 37.5c. This needs to be done very slowly as the body can over react to the change in temperature and throw itself into turmoil, causing issues with cell death.
- Pale skin, cold to touch
- Shivering at first, but then the muscles will stiffen as the body cools more
- The body starts to slow down – speech, thought processing, pulse and breathing
- Tiredness, confusion and disorientation (a bit like being drunk!)
- This can lead to unconsciousness, then potentially death!
- Open the Airway and check for Breathing
- Call 999!
- SLOWLY warm the casualty by putting blankets over them
Firstly you need to consider the cause. The main cause of Heat Exhaustion is over exposure to the sun.
- Pale, sweaty skin
- Wanting to or actually being sick
- Fast but weak pulse and breathing
- They usually say they feel cold, but are actually hot to touch
- Take the casualty to a cooler place, or in the shade
- Remove any non-required clothing
- Give them plenty of water to rehydrate
- Obtain medical advice
If the casualty gets worse, or you are unsure, call 999
Heat Stroke can be life threatening, and will need a visit to A&E. The body and internal organisms work at a certain temperature, when they get too hot, they can die. This causes major issues internally, and can require long term treatment and care.
- Really bad headache
- They could have a seizure
- Feeling like they want to be or actually are sick
- Hot, but dry skin
- Take the casualty to a cooler place, like in the shade
- Call 999 immediately
- Cool the casualty as quick as you can in any way you can (keep a track of their temperature though as it could go the wrong way!)
A very common thing within children under the age of 5 is Infantile Convulsions. When the child gets too hot, they are unable to regulate the heat as the hypothalamus is yet to be fully developed. The body’s way of dealing with this is to have convulsions, similar to an epileptic seizure.
A seizure usually follows 4 stages. Aura, Tonic, Clonic and then Recovery.
Aura: A sensation, taste or smell the casualty can sometimes experience before a seizure (this is uncommon for Febrile Convulsions)
Tonic: This is where all of the muscles stiffen, and this usually lasts for 30 seconds. This would be incredibly painful for the casualty!
Clonic: The Clonic phase is what most people think is the seizure. This is where the body make sudden, jerky movements as the brain attempts to reset itself. This can last from a few seconds to hours, but usually only lasts for a few minutes.
Recovery: The casualty may be unresponsive during this phase. They will slowly come around, but may be very confused to start with. It can take 20-30 minutes for the casualty to be fully alert and orientated. It is unlikely that they will remember the seizure.
- Protect the child from injury
- Remove outer clothing and any bedding, open windows and fan the child – they need to cool down
- Call 999 for help
- When the seizure stops, maintain the airway and breathing
Want to know more? Attend a training course which covers this topic:
|QA Level 3 Award in First Aid at Work (QCF)|
|QA Level 2 Award in Emergency First Aid At Work (QCF)|
|QA Level 2 Award In Basic Life Support and Safe Use of an Automated External Defibrillator (QCF)|
|QA Level 2 Award in Basic Life Support and Management of Anaphylaxis (QCF)|
|QA Level 3 Award in Paediatric First Aid (QCF)|
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