Homicide and Heat Stroke

Heat Stroke
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While watching Good Morning America (GMA) this morning, I heard a news story that stopped me short. It is the story about a high school football coach who has been charged with reckless homicide. A 15 year old boy died last August after collapsing in the sweltering heat during football practice. The practice included running sprints, sometimes in pads and helmet.

Over the past several years there have been almost three dozen heat related deaths in high school, college, and pro athletes. This is the first time that anyone has been charged with homicide. I will not comment on the legal issues, but would like to remind you that heat can be the source of serious health issues.

Heat Stroke

Symptoms of Heat Strokeinclude a temperature of 103 F or more (105 F or more). No sweating, a rapid pulse, fast and shallow breathing. The skin will be flushed (red), hot, and dry. The person will have nausea, dizziness, a headache, and confusion or delirium. The person may be unconscious.

Treatment Of Heat Stroke

• This is a severe medical emergency. Summon emergency assistance or get the person to the hospital without delay. Delay can be fatal.
• Move the person to a cooler environment while waiting for the EMT's.
• Use whatever method available (cool baths, water hose, misting) to begin reducing the body temperature while waiting.

Key Precautions for Prevention of Heat-Related Illness

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* If possible try to acclimate to the weather. Those who work in the heat are usually more "used" to it. Humidity can make it "seem" warmer than the actual temperature (heat index).

* Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing and use a hat or umbrella.

* Don't just carry water or juice with you. Drink it, even if you don't feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate the body. Drink enough that your urine is light in color.

* Avoid using salt tablets unless directed by a physician.

* Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do something physically demanding (work or football/band practice), try to do it during the coolest part of the day (between 4 am and 7 am). If you must do it later in the day, remember fluids. If you are sweating, you are losing fluids and salts. Consider drinking one 8-oz Gatorade for every 1-3 8-oz water.

* Stay indoors as much as possible. Use a fan or air conditioning. Really important if you are newly post-surgery, very young or elderly, have a heavy cast on.

* Take regular breaks when engaging in physical activity on warm/hot days. Take time out to find a cool place (shade tree, indoors, lake).

Sources
Ky. Coach Pleads Not Guilty in Player's Death; Louisville community tries to buoy football coach charged in 15-year-old player's heat death By BRETT BARROUQUERE and WILL GRAVES Associated Press Writers; LOUISVILLE, Ky. January 26, 2009 (AP)

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