Emergency: Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a serious, life-threatening condition that occurs when the body loses its ability to control its temperature. Heat stroke is a true medical emergency that can be fatal if not properly and promptly treated.

Victims must receive immediate treatment to avoid permanent organ damage. Cool the victim and seek medical advice immediately.


Common symptoms:

  • High body temperature (above 40 degrees Celsius);
  • Flushed, hot skin (moist in initial stages, dry in later stages);
  • Dizziness, confusion, or hallucinations;
  • Elevated blood pressure (early stage);
  • Shortness of breath or hyperventilating;
  • Rapid pulse;
  • Seizures;
  • Unconsciousness or coma; and
  • Core body temperature above 40 degrees Celsius.


To treat heat stroke, you need to:

  • Move the person to a shady area;
  • Remove clothing;
  • Apply cool or tepid water to the skin (or use spray bottle);
  • Fan the person to promote sweating and evaporation;
  • Place ice packs under the armpits and groin if possible; and
  • Monitor the body temperature until it drops to between 38.3 and 38.8°C (101 – 102 F); and
  • Seek medical advice by using a VHF marine radio or cell phone.
REMEMBER: Persons suffering from heat stroke should always seek medical attention.