Heat Exhaustion: Do You Know the Warning Signs?

As a trail driver, I like to joke about all the crazy and funny things that athletes do on and off the trail. Band-Aids on the nipples, wearable tech on almost every appendage, and something called the runner’s trots — not to mention the shoes. My husband has more shoes than me, and don’t get me started on the socks. I swear he’s got like 30 pair.

greenfingerThat said, I do want to remind you that the person managing athletes has one very important responsibility: to watch over them. While heat exhaustion is a beast that we all hope to tame, the fact of the matter is it can be deadly.

Recognizing Heat Exhaustion

Obviously, it’s up to you as a trail driver to recognize the signs of exhaustion in your athletes.

These signs can vary, but some of the most common include:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Pale skin
  • Fatigue
  • Profuse sweating
  • Muscle cramping
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

Some athletes may also experience rapid heartbeat, dark-colored urine, fainting, or a lack of sweat. If you notice any one or more of these symptoms, the responsibility rests on your shoulders to pull them off the trail. Be the voice of reason.

Treating Heat Exhaustion

If exhaustion is related to heat, cool them off as fast and as furiously as possible. I traditionally have a towel that I put on the very bottom of the cooler for just this time. It’s wet, dripping, and frosty, but it does the trick. A portable fan can also help the situation.

It’s also important to get fluids into their system. Water or sports drinks are your best options.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine. It’s also not a bad idea to get some food into their system, especially salty foods, like crackers or pretzels.

From there, remove any and all tight fitting or unnecessary clothing. If these measures don’t improve symptoms or provide relief within 15 minutes, make sure they get emergency medical attention.

Trail well.

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